It's always monkey business for Jefferson County pet owner
"Even though she is healthy and cool, because is she exotic, if she bit someone, they would put her to sleep."
And owning a pet like Mindy the monkey is very little like owning any other domesticated animal.
"That's the mistake people make," says Wicklund. "There are lots of bad stories. People assume it's like a cat or a dog. You can't shush them because they're too intelligent. But they're not human, either. She's still a monkey, and she does monkey things, like monkey jumping or grabbing on your arm."
And Mindy did playfully bite when she was a baby, but a monkey bite isn't like a dog bite, Wicklund says.
"She went through her biting stage. It's like a pinch, and it leaves a bruise. Now she slaps and pinches."
"But she will grow out of that, too. As she gets older, she is getting more independent," adds Wicklund.
Quality of Life Versus Quantity of Life
Of course, not everyone thinks monkeys should be house pets, and Wicklund has heard criticism that Mindy belongs in the wild or in the zoo.
"Her life span in the wild is four to six years. It's 40 to 60 years with us. Some day, Mindy will die, but it will be from a disease. But in the wild, she's at the bottom at food chain," she says.
And though Wicklund admits that Mindy doesn't have any monkey playmates at home, she's adamant that the family doesn't deny her anything, including grooming.
But can a monkey have a good life indoors?
"I think so, I really do," says Wicklund. "I don't think she's wanting for anything. She does have a cage, but she sleeps in the bed. At home, she has full reign."
Still, owning a pet monkey is a lot of work. Vet care is extremely complicated and expensive.
"A lot of vets aren't into that," says Wicklund. "Anybody who gets a monkey should educate themselves prior to getting one. Dogs and cats are extremely simple compared to them. They're also not human."
But Mindy does eat human food, along with a bottle in the morning and at night. Wicklund says her favorite meat is pork, but she likes chicken, too. And, of course, she eats bugs.
"We watch the plants and flowers, and she takes children's vitamins. Right now, she doesn't like Monkey Chow."
Also, Wicklund doesn't have any other friends with monkeys, so in some respects, she's on her own. She says she knows of another monkey in Brookfield, but she's never met it. And if anything ever happened to Mindy, she's not sure if she'd buy another monkey.
"It took me 28 years to replace the last one, so I really don't know."
So for now, Mindy is growing up as a full-fledged member of the Wicklund family. She goes to work every day with her parents, and naturally, some of Western Towing's clients are taken aback when they see a monkey in the office.
"Some customers are really freaked. They ask if it's real."
Wicklund says her family, which includes her husband and three adult boys, treats Mindy like another sibling, and admits that sometimes they forget she's a monkey. She wears baby clothes, and this summer, she will be potty trained -- Wicklund says it's a myth that you can't teach a monkey how to use the toilet.
"(They remember she's a monkey) when she will steal a pen and make it junk, or take someone's glasses and make it junk."
"It's a lot of work," admits Wicklund. "But I love her to death."
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Thank you for standing up for monkey owners. We love a little Java Macaque boy named Charlie. We also did our research and they are certainly not for everyone. He is a 24/7 joy. He does love to wear his clothes! He tries to put them on himself if I do not get done as fast as he wants. I think many people are forgetting why this is America!! We have certain freedoms as long as we are not harming someone else or keeping them from their freedoms. It is the same with ownership of many other exotic animals.
We also love a java macaque. He is part of our family since three weeks of age and loves wearing his clothes. He tries to put them on if I don't get it done as fast as he wants. Like Linda we did research for quite some time and have only positive results. They are not for everyone. You need lots of time and patience. Charlie goes everywhere with us and is never left with anyone else. Sharing a life with him is very rewarding.
In response to... J said: Sad for this poor animal, this life imposed upon her by this woman. Shame on you. Leave animals where they belong, living a free and natural life. ... Shame on you for judging this person. What did she do wrong?? I believe that owning a primate is acceptable under certain conditions, but even with your beliefs, I am sure we both are much happier that not every dick and jane has one. I am glad that she treats her monkey well, imagine a majority the people that have monkey's that don't treat them well, and take into consideration all the people that mistreat their dogs and cats. Do they belong in their natural habitat too? If someone is going out of their way to get a primate, I can only assume they really plan to take care of it. I know many are ready to handle a primate in their home, and try to pass it off to others, but is that worse than what some owners do to their dogs and cats, not feeding them, ignoring them until they die, beating them when they need to go out, and beating them when they go to the bathroom on the floor. When I moved into my house there was a dog, tied to a chain, dead and rotting in the back yard. Well I have to go, but shaming this woman for loving a pet that happens to be exotic is wrong.
Gabrielle Collins said: As a representative of a group of exotic pet owners, I am dismayed, but not surprised, at the ignorant comments made by people in reaction to this article. Monkeys are very difficult to raise properly, which this article admits, but this is obviously a good owner. She did her homework first, researched extensively, made sure it was legal, and takes excellent care of her monkey. How can anyone say it is a bad thing? She loves this monkey as much as all of you naysayers love your cats and dogs. True, monkeys are intelligent and pose special challenges - which are talked about in the article. A monkey is NOT for everyone, not even for most people. It takes as much dedication as having a human child - more, as she will be dependent for a longer time. This monkey can look forward to a long, healthy life not in a cage in a sanctuary with no contact with people who will love her, nor in the wild where she will have to deal with myriad problems and live a very short life. This monkey has food, vet care, companionship and love. What more can you ask? I see plenty of people who put clothes on dogs too, so I don't see the outcry there. It would do well for those people who think that exotic pets are all abused or neglected to look at the facts, not the claims made by extremist groups. Yes, there are bad exotic pet owners. There are bad dog and cat owners and bad goldfish owners, too. The vast majority of exotic pet owners love and care for their pets - just as Linda cares for Mindy! Gabrielle Collins Exotic Pet Owners Uniting www.epou.org
Akasha said: And it sucks when you get Monkey Pox.
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