Can You Own a Monkey In California?

Monkeys, apes, primates and several other types of exotic pets are illegal to own as pets in the state of California according to California Code of Regulations Chapter 3 section 671.

Aside from it being illegal in the state of California to own a monkey or primate of any type without the proper permit, it is also unethical. If you decide to ignore the laws and keep a monkey as a pet anyway you could face heavy fines and possible jail time.

We’ve all seen Michael Jackson’s and Justin Bieber’s monkeys on TV and on social media. It’s not all fun and games with monkeys, they are wild, undomesticated animals that belong in the wild with their own kind. They pose a threat to public safety as cute as they are, especially as babies.

Monkeys don’t make good pets

With all of the domesticated animals in the world that make wonderful pets like cats, dogs, and certain kinds of birds, owning a monkey as a pet just doesn’t make sense.

Just a few things to know about monkeys and why they may not make good pets.

  • They are illegal to own as pets in most states.
  • They can live a very long time, some up to 50 years.
  • Are highly intelligent, as smart as a young child.
  • Monkeys can become very aggressive as they grow into adulthood. They may even bite and attack their owners or other people.
  • Monkeys thrive in groups, with other monkeys and can become very depressed alone.
  • They can carry diseases dangerous to humans.

Popular types of pet monkeys

The primates below are the ones that you hear of and see on TV as pets. This doesn’t mean they are legal as household pets or even make good pets.

  • Tamarin
  • Marmoset
  • Macaque
  • Capuchin
  • Squirrel Monkey
  • Guenon
  • Spider Monkey

Who can legally own a monkey in California?

While monkeys are illegal to own as household pets in the state of California, there are certain circumstances where a monkey may be kept as a pet. In these situations permits must be obtained and you must have a specific reason for owning a monkey in California. I don’t know all of the reasons or regulations but I would assume the following:

You must have the proper enclosure that meets all specifications  set by the state for housing a monkey. This could be a zoo or rehabilitation center of some type.

Monkeys are often making appearances in Hollywood movies Under the supervision and care of a trainer, this is another circumstance in California where monkeys can be legally “kept as pet” with the proper documentation and permits.