Chicketa can untie shoes, do simple puzzles and unlock car doors — all quite simple things for the Japanese Snow Monkey.
When a fellow primate escaped from its owner's vehicle in a North York Ikea parking lot Dec. 9, John Cameron was hardly surprised. The owner of BJ's Little Rodents and Reptiles in downtown Sudbury said monkeys are very capable of simple tasks like unlocking doors.
His own Chicketa has no problem working power locks and opening child-proof doors. That's why the exotic pet shop owner travels with his monkey tethered in a crate.
“There are restrictions you should place on the animals,” Cameron said. “You have to always have control over them. They're like children with ADD.”
In the event that the animals do get loose, Cameron said it's unlikely they would go far.
Darwin, the now-famous young rhesus macaque spotted in a stylish dress coat and diaper, was likely looking for his owners when he was found in the parking lot, Cameron said.
“They won't go anywhere,” he said. “They are scared. That monkey was waiting for its owner.”
Media reports say seven-month-old Darwin is temporarily at Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary, northeast of Toronto. He spent the night in a hold centre as staff looked for a better home. Cameron has already contacted agencies, telling them he would happily give Darwin a home.
“That's what I do,” he said. “We give homes to animals.”
Calls to Toronto Animal Services by Northern Life to see whether that's a possibility have yet to be returned.
Meanwhile, the monkey's owners have been hit with a $240 fine for breaking the city’s bylaw on prohibited animals, according to media reports.
There is a similar bylaw in Sudbury, stating which animals may be kept as pets, and monkeys are not on the list of approved pets, according to Richard Paquette Sr., manager of the Rainbow District Animal Shelter.
Animal control has never dealt with a monkey incident.
If someone were caught with a monkey, they would be forced to relocate the animal outside city limits. Cameron is able to keep Chicketa for that very reason — he lives outside the City of Greater Sudbury.
While Chicketa is a great addition to the Cameron family, monkey's aren't for everyone, a sentiment echoed by Paquette. Cameron said “it takes infinite patience” to make them into suitable companions.