9 min read

Chris Brown Bought His Daughter A Monkey — And People Aren't Happy

"That baby needs its mother."

Last week, singer Chris Brown posted a video on Instagram — in it, his daughter Royalty holds a baby white-faced capuchin monkey who’s wrapped up in a fleece blanket.

“Royal, is this your baby? Is this your baby?” Brown said in the video as his daughter gazes down at the capuchin.

The little girl unwraps the blanket to pick up the baby monkey, who’s wearing a diaper, and Brown is heard saying, “She’s going to be bigger than you, babe. Y’all have the same size head.”

The capuchin monkey makes a few tiny, chattering squeaks before the video stops.

Brown’s post got plenty of attention, garnering 3.7 million views and plenty of positive comments. But other fans weren’t as happy.

“What a dumb thing to do,” one commenter said. “This is a wild animal which requires very particular care, so cruel.”

“That baby needs its mother,” another commenter said. “Monkeys are not pets.”

“I'm very surprised,” said another. “Please put that monkey back where it belongs! This animal's needs can not be met in captivity!”

Little girl holding baby capuchin monkey
Instagram/Chris Brown Official

Tim Phillips, cofounder and vice president of Animal Defenders International (ADI) said that keeping a monkey as a pet can have detrimental effects on the animal, both physically and psychologically. 

“It’s completely inappropriate,” Phillips told The Dodo. “It’s a huge mistake on the part of this singer, Chris Brown. That monkey needs to be with its own kind.”

Wild capuchin monkeys, who are found in Central and South America, are extremely social beings, Phillips explained. So isolating this baby capuchin from his or her family, especially at such a young age, would be absolute torture.
 

Rescued monkeys playing together
Rescued black capuchin monkeys playing together | ADI

“We’ve rescued dozens and dozens of these little monkeys,” Phillips said. “And once you put them back with their own kind, you see them absolutely blossom.”

Capuchin monkeys are also highly intelligent, and they would experience many of the same emotions as people when being forced into life as a pet, according to Phillips.

“The thing with these primates is that we know that they would suffer as you and I would,” Phillips said. “If you took a 1-year-old or 2-year-old child, suddenly separated them from their parents, and put them in a room full of monkeys or a completely different species, would that be right? And we know that absolutely it wouldn’t be. And we know the feelings and the fears of that animal would be like those of a small child.”

Woman touching hand of captive monkey
ADI President Jan Creamer holds hands with a lonely capuchin monkey just before rescuing her | ADI

Phillips said he’s also worried about the safety of Brown’s daughter around the monkey. 

“It’s also going to grow up and get a lot stronger, and it’s going to have big, sharp teeth,” he said. “They’re much tougher with each other than humans are at that age, so the likelihood of that child getting a bite is very, very high. And the little monkey is going to pay for that too.”

Many of the monkeys ADI rescues have paid the price for threatening a human, Phillips said.

Chained capuchin monkey
A capuchin monkey in a circus before being rescued by ADI | ADI

“When we rescue them, we often find that they have their teeth broken off — just snapped off to stop them biting,” Phillips said. “Because they would bite each other in play, and when they’re asserting themselves in the group and so on. But of course, humans don’t want animals in their home that’s going to be fairly strong, very, very lively, and can bite a child.”

Capuchin monkeys are commonly captured and sold by traffickers in Central and South America, but Phillips think it’s more likely that Brown got this capuchin monkey from a captive breeder. (Sadly, in the U.S., it’s legal to breed, sell and keep wild animals like capuchins in captivity, he explained.) But this doesn’t mean the monkey is better suited to life as a pet.

“It would still involve this monkey being taken away from his family, and that would be very, very distressing to this animal,” he said.

Man holding frightened monkey in costume
A frightened white-faced capuchin with a trainer in a U.S. show | ADI

The fact Brown is publicizing his new decision is also very damaging, according to Phillips, as it might encourage others to get pet monkeys of their own.

“People down in countries like Peru and Colombia and Brazil are looking at this and thinking, ‘Well, isn’t that cute? I wouldn’t mind a pet monkey,’” Phillips said. “Forests are being stripped bare of them. Some of them are being pushed to extinction. So it’s incredibly irresponsible because the position of these monkeys in the wild is very fragile.”

Rescued monkeys in rainforest habitat
Rescued white-faced capuchins in an ADI rainforest habitat at Pilpintuwasi in the Amazon basin | ADI

“It is unfortunate that yet another celebrity has opted to purchase an exotic pet,” Prashant Khetan, chief executive officer and general counsel for Born Free USA, told The Dodo. “When celebrities publicize exotic pet ownership, it only glamorizes an act that has no place in today’s society.”

For now, the future of this particular capuchin remains unclear, although Phillips hopes that Brown will relinquish the baby animal to a licensed sanctuary.

Rescued monkeys returned to the wild
Spider monkeys rescued from illegal traffickers being returned to the wild last month | ADI

“I think Chris Brown has made a terrible mistake doing this, and he should look as quickly as possible at getting this monkey into an appropriate sanctuary where it can be reintroduced to its own kind again,” Phillips said.

To help stop the trafficking and captive breeding of capuchin monkeys and other wild animals, you can make a donation to ADI or Born Free USA.