© Anup Shah/ npl/Minden Pictur
Many primates are taken from the wild and sold in the illegal pet trade. Baby primates are considered the most desirable catch, and poachers will often kill the mother and other primates to get their young.
Chimpanzees have long been a victim of illegal trade. In September 2000, a smuggler was caught with two baby chimpanzees at Doha Airport in Qatar. The criminal placed the chimps in plastic cylinders inside a shipment of exotic birds. When the chimps were found, the babies – which were intended for a pet shop – were reported to have been sickly and starving.
Factoring other chimps killed during confiscation, and the individual chimpanzees that do not survive being smuggled out of the jungle or country, it is estimated that at least 10 chimps die for each baby that is captured and successfully delivered overseas.
READ MORE: Too cute for their own good? Cotton-top tamarins (pictured above) are prized for the illegal pet trade and no one knows for sure how many are taken each year.
Other primates that are frequent victims of the pet trade include gorillas, orangutans, spider monkeys, gibbons and macaques, to name a few. Until the demand to purchase these animals as pets is squelched, the illegal primate pet trade will most likely continue to flourish – to the detriment of remaining wild populations.
Want to learn more? Primates are also threatened by hunting, disease and habitat loss.