Law & Legal & Attorney legal subjects

Is Owning a Chimp Illegal?

    State Laws

    • States have different laws regarding the keeping of chimpanzees as pets. Some states prohibit it entirely, while others allow it with some restrictions. For instance, a state may allow an individual to keep a chimpanzee if they have a specifically designed caged enclosure, or the state may require a permit. Some states do not have any laws prohibiting keeping monkeys as pets. Visit your state's official wildlife office for specific information on the laws in your area (see Resources).

    Endangered Species

    • When chimpanzees are taken from the wild to be used as pets, they are often illegally captured. Dr. Jane Goodall comments that when baby chimpanzees are taken from the wild, the captors often kill an estimated 10 other chimpanzees that are attempting to protect the baby. This can include the baby chimpanzee's mother and relatives. Chimpanzees are an endangered species, and this practice threatens the future of the species. Purchasing wild animals obtained in this way rewards profiteers, and encourages them to continue the practice.


    • Chimpanzees can be extremely dangerous. Although they can be affectionate and playful, they are extremely strong and can cause serious physical injury to humans. Chimpanzees are five times stronger than a human male. There have been several instances in which chimpanzees kept as a pets have mauled or killed their owners.

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