Can You Own A Monkey In New York?

Owning exotic pets like monkeys often seems appealing, but it’s illegal in some places like New York. If you’re curious whether it’s possible to legally own a monkey in New York, read on to learn more.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: It is illegal for a private citizen to own any species of primate, including monkeys, in New York.

In this article, we’ll cover New York laws related to owning primates as pets, restrictions by species, exceptions like educational purposes, and consequences for illegally owning a monkey in the state.

Overview of Exotic Pet Laws in New York

When it comes to owning exotic pets, each state in the United States has its own set of regulations. In New York, there are specific laws in place to govern the ownership of exotic animals, including primates like monkeys.

Pet primates are banned in the state

In New York, it is illegal to own a pet primate. This ban includes all species of monkeys, such as capuchins, marmosets, and macaques. While these animals may be adorable and intelligent, they are not suitable as household pets. The ban is in place to protect both the primates and the public.

Primates have complex social and physical needs that cannot be adequately met in a typical home environment. They require specialized care, including a specific diet, enrichment activities, and ample space to move and climb.

Keeping them as pets often leads to neglect and mistreatment, which is why the state of New York has deemed it necessary to prohibit their ownership.

If you are found in possession of a pet primate in New York, you could face legal consequences, including fines and confiscation of the animal. It is important to respect the laws in place and consider the well-being of these creatures.

Only zoos can get permits for exotic animals

While pet primates are not allowed in New York, there are certain exceptions for those who wish to keep exotic animals. Zoos and other accredited facilities are permitted to own and exhibit these animals, but they must obtain the necessary permits and adhere to strict regulations.

Zoos play a crucial role in conservation and education, providing a safe and suitable environment for exotic animals. They have the resources and expertise to meet the unique needs of each species, ensuring their well-being and promoting public awareness about these incredible creatures.

It is important to note that the ownership of exotic animals, including primates, is highly regulated. These laws are in place to protect both the animals and the general public. If you are interested in learning more about the laws and regulations surrounding exotic pet ownership in New York, you can visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website for more information.

Restrictions on Monkey Species

Complete ban on all primates

In New York, it is essential to understand that owning a monkey as a pet is strictly prohibited. The state has implemented a complete ban on the ownership of all primate species, including monkeys. This ban is in place for several reasons, primarily to protect both the public and the animals themselves.

Monkeys are highly intelligent and social creatures that require specialized care and environments. Due to their complex needs, they often suffer in captivity and can pose a risk to public safety.

Certain monkeys specifically prohibited

While the ban encompasses all primates, there are specific monkey species that are explicitly prohibited in New York. These species include but are not limited to chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.

These larger primates are particularly dangerous to have as pets due to their strength and potential for aggression. It is important to note that even smaller monkey species, such as capuchins and marmosets, are also forbidden in New York.

It is crucial to comply with these restrictions and respect the laws in place to ensure the well-being of both the monkeys and the community as a whole.

For more information on the specific laws and regulations regarding monkeys in New York, visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.

Limited Exceptions to Primate Ban

Educational purposes with a permit

While New York has a strict ban on owning primates as pets, there are limited exceptions to this rule. One such exception is for individuals who wish to own a monkey for educational purposes. In order to do so, they must obtain a permit from the appropriate authorities.

This permit allows individuals to keep a monkey for educational purposes, such as for use in schools or educational programs. It is important to note that this exception is granted on a case-by-case basis and the individual must demonstrate a legitimate educational need for owning a primate.

Possession before the law passed in 2005

Another exception to the primate ban in New York applies to individuals who already possessed a monkey before the law was enacted in 2005. These individuals are allowed to keep their existing primates, but they must adhere to certain regulations and requirements.

They must ensure that their monkey is properly registered and comply with any housing and care guidelines set forth by the state. It is worth mentioning that the possession of primates acquired after the law was passed is strictly prohibited, regardless of whether the individual had owned a monkey prior to 2005.

Consequences of Illegal Ownership

While the idea of owning a monkey as a pet may seem appealing to some, it is important to understand the legal implications and the potential consequences of such ownership. In New York, owning a monkey as a pet is illegal unless you have the proper permits and licenses.

Violating this law can result in severe penalties.

Up to $500 fine and 60 days jail time

If caught owning a monkey without the required permits, individuals can face fines of up to $500 and may even be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail. These penalties are in place to discourage illegal ownership and to protect both the welfare of the animals and the safety of the general public.

Forfeiture and removal of the animal

In addition to fines and potential jail time, individuals found in illegal possession of a monkey may also have their pet confiscated and removed from their care. The authorities have the right to seize the animal and place it in a more suitable environment, such as a wildlife sanctuary or zoo, where its needs can be properly met.

It is important to note that these consequences are in place to ensure the well-being of both the animals and the community. Monkeys are not domesticated animals and require specialized care and environments that most people cannot provide.

By enforcing strict ownership regulations, the government aims to prevent the mistreatment of these animals and protect the public from potential risks associated with keeping monkeys as pets.

For more information on the legalities of owning exotic pets in New York, you can visit the official website of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:


While many find primates like monkeys appealing as pets, New York prohibits private ownership to protect public health and safety. The only option for legal monkey ownership is obtaining special permits for educational purposes.

In summary, it is illegal in almost all cases for individuals to own monkeys as pets in New York. Make sure to understand the laws before attempting to purchase exotic animals.

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