The capuchins are New World monkeys of the subfamily Cebinae. Before 2011, the subfamily contained only a single genus, Cebus, but in 2011 it was proposed to split the capuchin monkeys between the gracile capuchins in the genus Cebus and the robust capuchins in the genus Sapajus. The range of capuchin monkeys includes Central and South America.
There are probably fewer than 100,000 pet capuchin monkeys in the United States, estimated Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, executive vice president and science adviser for the ASPCA in New York.
"They are destructive. They can tear a house apart. We are talking rip the curtains down, knock everything off every shelf you have. Think about a critter who is more agile and able to reach places than a cat having a tantrum. You can't house-train them. They evolve to live in trees," Zowatowski said.
The 9-12-pound (4-5-kilo) monkeys can turn the pages of a book, pick up dropped items, push buttons on remote controls, load DVDs and open water bottles. That, said wildlife experts, is not good enough.
"Can you imagine going into the jungle, grabbing a monkey out of a tree and taking him home? He'd rip your face off as he should, as he should," said Lynn Cuny, founder and chief executive of a sanctuary, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Inc. in Kendalia, Texas.
Helping Hands with Capuchin Monkeys
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Established in 1979, Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled is the only non-profit organization in the world that raises and trains capuchin monkeys to provide daily, in-home assistance to people living with spinal cord injury or other mobility impairments.
Easily recognized as the 'organ grinder' monkeys, Capuchin Monkeys are sometimes kept as exotic pets. They are also sometimes used as service animals. Sometimes they plunder fields and crops and are seen as troublesome by nearby human populations. In some regions they have become rare due to the destruction of their habitat.
A typical diet for capuchin monkeys includes fruit, insects, leaves and small birds. They are particularly good at catching frogs and cracking nuts, and it is suspected that they may also feed on small mammals.
Capuchin Monkeys are very vocal animals that scream, whistle and bark. In this way, they call each other in order to maintain contact and may express their dislike if someone or something disturbs them.
Capuchin Monkeys spend their free time within the group playing with each other and grooming each other.
[I]t is believed that these monkeys inhibit areas of Honduras, Brazil, Paraguay and Peru among other regions in central and south America. Capuchin monkeys prefer to stay in large groups of about 10 to 40 in the forests, but they can conveniently adapt themselves to other places as well. All group members hunt for feeding grounds.
Locomotion is principally quadrupedal and while traveling, the prehensile tail is not typically used and is curved down behind the body. The tail is mainly used during feeding and foraging and serves as a brake while descending (Youlatos 1999). The tail helps to control risky movements, assist in changes in direction and to stabilize the capuchin while feeding in its characteristic seated posture. The tufted capuchin normally moves on branches and twigs and suspensory postures are rare (Fleagle & Mittermeier 1980; Youlatos 1999).
The face can range from brown to pink (Groves 2001). There is significant variation in face color among even members of the same group but adult males tend to be darker in color than females (Emmons & Freer 1997). Sexual dimorphism is seen in the wild tufted capuchin with males averaging 3.650 kg (8.05 lb) and females averaging 2.520 kg (5.56 lb) (Fleagle 1999). Sexual dimorphism is also exhibited in canine size with males possessing larger canines than females (Kay et al 1988; Masterson 2003).
These groups consist of related females and their offspring, as well as several males. Usually groups are dominated by a single male, who has primary rights to mate with the females of the group. Mutual grooming as well as vocalization serves as communication and stabilization of the group dynamics.
For one, capuchins live in complex social groups, which necessitates being able to recognize and remember those in which one has had contact with in the past. During fights, males may recruit other males to form an alliance against an aggressor. This is similar to male chimpanzees who also form coalitions and alliances with one another. Capuchins also demonstrate other socially complex behaviors such as food sharing and cooperating with another individual to receive a food reward.
Capuchin Monkeys are diurnal and arboreal animals. These are very intelligent monkeys that are common as pets, trained performers, and therapy animals. Capuchin Monkeys are numerous in captivity in the USA and Europe.
Capuchins can jump up to nine feet (three meters), and they use this mode of transport to get from one tree to another. To mark their territories, capuchin monkeys leave a scent by soaking their hands and feet in urine. Remaining hidden among forest vegetation for most of the day, capuchin monkeys sleep on tree branches and descend to the ground only to find drinking water.