Can You Own A Monkey In Texas?

Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

Pets are often seen as integral to our lives. They give us a sense of comfort and belonging that we don’t always get from other humans. Pets can be just what we need to feel as if we have something that can give us love and which we can love back.

However, there are certain pets that you might be cautious of adopting because you aren’t sure whether owning them is legal or not in your state or country. You might wonder whether or not a pet monkey, for example, is an animal you can legally own in a state like Texas.

Well, this article will set out exactly what kind of animals are legal in which states, including whether or not monkeys are legal in Texas or not.

Can You Own A Monkey In Texas?

Thanks to the hit Netflix show Tiger King more and more people are aware of the exotic pets’ trade in the United States of America and that many states are aiding and abetting in this trade of unusual pets by allowing their ownership. These include animals like tigers and alligators.

So, you might be wondering, does this extend in the lone star state to monkeys? In fact, it does.

The ownership of monkeys is entirely legal in Texas, regardless of the breed. The reason for this is like many other states, Texas sees there to be no need to have legal ownership for individuals who own exotic pets. This includes allowing the ownership of animals like lemurs, who as primates are illegal to own as a pet in most other states. Texas however makes it perfectly legal to own lemurs.

Indeed, the only real oversight that some Texans might face when owning exotic animals is that those that are considered dangerous, such as lions, tigers and bears require a license. However, monkeys don’t even require a license to be owned by people in Texas meaning that their ownership is more widespread than that of lions or bears.

You may be wondering how the exotic pets trade got started in the United States. Well, this piece will explain exactly how it got started and the legal implications of owning so called exotic pets.

How The Exotic Pets Trade Got Started In The United States

People have been obsessed with animals for centuries. When not hunting them for food and to ensure their own survival, humans have made lasting bonds with animals like dogs and cats, a tradition that has continued for thousands of years.

The obsession with wild or untamed animals has been going for as long as humans have. The ancient Egyptians kept exotic birds as pets some 5,000 years ago and the Romans, normally thought of as simply finding exotic animals to put into staged fights in their amphitheatres, did often keep big cats as pets.

It would be during the 15th century and later on that exotic pets, particularly those from the Americas, would start finding homes in the homes of ordinary sailors and people across Europe as the exotic pets market began to grow.

The mass importation of exotic pets into the United States wouldn’t really start until after the Second World War, however. With war ended and the United States having come out of the war with a better economy than it went in with, many former service men and women wanted to settle down to not only greater prosperity but also greater opportunity.

The opportunities that they found included owning animals that they might not have been able to get their hands on before.

Whilst for most Americans this might have meant owning exotic fish or parrots, for some this meant the ownership of lions, tigers, monkeys and other exotic pets slowly crept into the United States with more and more pets being imported during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s because there were no real laws governing the ownership of exotic pets.

Indeed, the law relating to the so-called exotic pet trade is still relatively lax in most American states. The reasons for this and the laws that do exist are worth explaining in order that you are fully aware what laws govern which states and what they mean for anyone owning an exotic animal such as a monkey or tiger.

American Laws On Exotic Pets

It would only really be in the 1970s that the American government and state governments began to place real restrictions on the ownership of exotic animals.

In 1975 the Center For Disease Control put a ban on the importation of primates to the United States because of the fear that they would bring disease with them into the country and potentially contribute to outbreaks in disease that can cross species, such as the Monkey B virus.

However, this didn’t stop the trade in primates or the increasing spread of them throughout the United States. Instead, the trade of primates is limited to those that are descended from primates that were born or imported into the US prior to 1975.

However, this doesn’t stop the illegal trade either and a great amount of money can be made for helping import primates into the US and then falsifying documents to prove that they are descended from one of the pre 1975 primates.

Other laws that govern the ownership of exotic pets in the USA are far laxer and more based on a state-by-state basis. Whilst selling primates, for example, across state lines from states where they are legal to states where their ownership is not legal is a federal crime, this doesn’t mean that.

As mentioned above, Texas only requires you to have a license for certain animals that are deemed dangerous such as lions and bears.

In other states, whilst the systems may seem better, they are in fact as equally flawed.
Whilst Utah for example, requires you to have a strict license for the ownership of animals like lions, monkeys and bears, a license that few people manage to get, you can own animals like alligators or camels with no license required whatsoever.

The laws remain lax in many states; however, this has changed in recent years as both the public and lawmakers have become more aware of the issue. In Washington state, the law changed so that you are unable to keep dangerous animals or potentially dangerous animals as pets.

Similarly, in West Virginia in 2015 non native wild animals were outlawed unless already owned by people in the state.

This at least meant that those animals that were previously owned would be kept safe and not potentially attempted to be sold or worse killed to prevent their owners from being penalised by a retroactive law.

Whether the law in the US will change so that endangered animals are no longer brought into the US to be sold as pets is yet to be seen. Those from the exotic pet community claim that they are simply acting in the best interests of the animals; that without them these species would be extinct because they are vanishing from the wild.

This is to an extent true. There are more tigers in captivity in the United States than there are in their native wild habitats. However, the reason that there are fewer tigers in the wild to begin with is that many of their ancestors and relatives have been traded around the world for decades.

This has resulted in a natural decline in the tiger population in the wild and so whilst it could be argued that tigers are safer in captivity than in the wild, part of the reason that they face extinction in the wild is because of the actions of those who both in the past and now have taken the animals from their natural habitat and placed them into captivity as pets.

Now that we have addressed some of the laws surrounding exotic pets in the United States, let’s address some of the issues surrounding actually owning a monkey and whether or not you should own such an animal.

Owning A Monkey In Texas

There are several issues with owning an exotic pet, whether it be a tiger or a monkey. The issues are so widespread that it is worth analysing them so that you can properly judge whether you consider it responsible or not to own a monkey or another exotic pet in the state that you live in.

One of the main factors is the animal’s welfare. This doesn’t only mean ensuring learning what the animal’s natural diet is and providing for it but ensuring that when your exotic pet gets sick it can be looked after properly.

One of the major problems that face exotic pet owners face is that when they are sick, you are forced to call out a vet that the veterinarian may not be familiar with and therefore unsure as to how to treat it.

This means that the animals can get quite sick without having anyone around to know how to care for it. However, luckily in areas that have many exotic pet owners, vets are becoming better prepared to be able to look after exotic pets as well as much more conventional pets.

Another aspect that you must consider if you are thinking of buying and owning an exotic pet is the cost that is associated with housing the animal. In order to ensure that it has the best life possible you must ensure that your exotic pet has an environment close to its natural one and attempting to recreate such an environment in your own state is likely to cost a great deal of money.

It is worth seriously considering all of these things before buying an exotic pet. It is also particularly important that you check local state laws related to the ownership of exotic pets just to make sure that you are working within the law and not against it.

The Morality Of Owning Exotic Animals

Whilst it is certainly legal to own a variety of exotic animals in many different states, there is a deep moral question about the ownership about animals that have been imported halfway across the world to be owned, whether they themselves were imported or if they are descended from imported animals.

In a nation that prides freedom above all else it is worth asking yourself about the morality of owning an exotic animal and whether or not it really is right to have such an animal as a lemur or a lion as a pet.

The only person who can answer such a question is of course you. It is worth asking a question because if you are thinking of buying such a creature it is important to feel comfortable with your decision before you buy such a pet.