Innovative Solutions for People        Living With Physical Disabilities

Innovative Solutions for People
       Living With Physical Disabilities


Monkey Helpers FAQs

Monkey Helpers FAQs - two monkeys looking through a hole

Q. Do monkeys go out in public with their human partner?

A. No, our monkeys do not assist with tasks in public. Monkeys are trained to perform tasks within the home environment only. We believe it’s important to respect our monkey’s hierarchy (see next question) and acknowledge that service in public would be stressful on both monkeys and their recipients alike.

In a home, monkeys enjoy outdoor time with their recipients when weather allows. Many of our monkey-recipient pairs relish their playtime together in the backyard or on the deck or patio. During these times, monkeys are leashed to keep them safe.

Q. What is monkey “hierarchy”?

A. In general terms, hierarchy reflects how each monkey ranks individuals in terms of what role or purpose they have in his/her daily life. A monkey will typically place the recipient, then a primary caregiver at the top of the hierarchy, and assign an appropriate rank to other family members, caregivers, friends, visitors, and even household pets. The monkey will also perceive himself/herself as having a particular rank within the hierarchy, with some people above him/her and others below.

It’s important to understand that hierarchy is natural and not something that can be eliminated through training. We, as human caretakers, must respect the monkey’s hierarchy and change our own actions and interpretations accordingly.

Q. Is having a monkey like having a dog or cat?

A. No – having a service monkey is more like having a small child. Monkeys require a lot of time, patience, and problem solving to develop a solid working relationship.

Q. What kinds of noises do monkeys make?

A. Monkeys make a variety of noises that vary greatly in pitch and volume.  They make many  grunting/squeaking sounds that represent different emotions/feelings. Excitement, happiness, anticipation, alarm, and fear are just some of the emotions monkeys express verbally.

Q. Are monkeys potty trained?

A. Most monkeys at Helping Hands are “potty trained.” (By potty trained, we mean that they return to their cage to go to the bathroom.) The floor of the cage is wire mesh and all waste falls through to a pan with papers below. Then the cage papers can be changed once or twice daily. Monkeys that are not fully potty trained may wear diapers. Any monkey may still have accidents if they are nervous or if something scares them.

Q. How much does a monkey cost?

A. We placed all our monkeys with recipients free of charge. Thanks to generous donors like you, all the costs of the initial training and placement (about $40,000) were completely covered for our recipients, and we offer continuing support of a recipient/monkey pair (approximately $15,000 a year) for their entire lives.

Additionally, to care for all the post-service monkeys at the Monkey Living Center, it costs about $500 per month per monkey (approximately $6,000 a year per monkey).

Q. What do monkeys eat?

A. Monkeys eat several small meals throughout the day. The primary staple of their diet is commercial monkey chow. They eat chow three times a day and it is supplemented with whole oats, vitamins, vegetables, water, and a small amount of apple and nuts. Because of their high metabolisms, between chow meals and snacks, monkeys typically eat about 6 times a day.

It is extraordinarily important that they have a healthy diet, as monkeys are at risk for developing Type II diabetes if they are fed inappropriately. 

Q. Do monkeys carry diseases harmful to humans?

A.No – Helping Hands monkeys are New World monkeys, native to Central and South America. New World monkeys do not carry the zoonotic diseases often associated with Old World monkeys (from Africa) such as Herpes B, Monkey Pox, or Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). Additionally, our monkeys are raised in a closed colony and receive periodic veterinary exams to keep their overall health status high. In fact, our monkeys are more likely to catch the common cold, the flu, or COVID-19 from humans.

Q. How long do capuchins live?

A. In the wild, capuchins typically live between 20-25 years. At helping Hands, our monkeys live between 30-40 years – our oldest monkey thus far lived to be 44!

Q. Do monkeys show affection for their humans?

A. Absolutely! Our monkeys see their recipients as the most important relationship in their lives. They view their human recipient as a treasured caretaker, not as someone who requires care.

Often at the Monkey Living Center, a monkey will choose to spend their time cuddling or playing with their human instead of other monkeys!