Animal Rights

Free Armani!

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It's not an amazing suit sale; it's the slogan of a burgeoning movement to reunite Elyse Gazewitz, a 42-year-old Rockville, Maryland, woman, with her beloved capuchin monkey, confiscated by Montgomery County officials on public health grounds. While living with Gazewitz, Armani wore baby clothes over Huggies diapers (with holes cut in them for his tail) and watched TV with his owner. Now living at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Frederick County, he goes au naturel and watches DVDs with other monkeys, presumably while being ogled by visitors (accommodations for which Gazewitz is billed $1,344 a month). If I were a capuchin monkey, I am frankly not sure which living situation I would prefer. But it seems to me it should be possible to address concerns about monkey-transmitted disease without banning them as pets.

Gazewitz's supporters plead Armani's case here. Here is background on the guy who wrote a protest song for the cause, sung to the tune of "Sloop John B" and ending with the unforgettable line, "I'm lonely Armani, I want to go home." 

Addendum: Frederick News-Post columnist Jo Ellen Gluscevich has this to say about Armani:

Obviously, I support laws that are in the best interest of society; and in most instances they make sense. However, I also feel that there are and should be exceptions to certain laws. A recent "exception" to the law with which I did not agree was the manner in which hotel heiress Paris Hilton was allowed to serve her prison time—an insult to society!

As for Armani, I say make an exception and show some compassion. Hopefully, the appeal will be in Armani's favor and he will be returned home soon.

Have a heart, and get over this monkey business!

It sounds like Gluscevich would like to arrange a Paris-for-Armani prisoner swap. The appeal to which she refers challenges a decision by the Montgomery County Animal Matters Hearing Board rejecting Gazewitz's request for the return of her monkey. Apparently the decision hinged on whether Gazewitz is truthfully reporting the Armani's age, which matters because monkeys owned before May 31, 2006, are exempt from the ban. Gluscevich reports that Armani is in "protective custody," away from the public's prying eyes.

Coincidentally, yesterday I visited Monkey Park, a mini-zoo between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that includes a sizable contingent of capuchins. These monkeys are so smart, our guide informed us, that an attempt was made to train them as assistants for disabled people. The program failed, he said, when it became apparent that the monkeys, which have a strong sense of hierarchy, would only obey people with "strong personalities."

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  1. But it seems to me it should be possible to address concerns about monkey-transmitted disease without banning them as pets.

    Maybe…but some of the diseases monkeys carry are sufficiently common, nasty, and highly transmissible to humans that an outright ban isn’t all that unreasonable, either. Especially from a public health perspective.

    I have colleagues that work with capuchins, and standard equipment includes head-to-toe protective gear, face shields (you can catch some viruses from their saliva), and anti-viral medication (valtrex, I think) kept close at hand.

  2. Monkeys should live in the jungle.

    he goes au naturel and watches DVDs with other monkeys

    Sounds like my downstairs neighbors.

  3. Maybe…but some of the diseases monkeys carry are sufficiently common, nasty, and highly transmissible to humans that an outright ban isn’t all that unreasonable, either. Especially from a public health perspective.

    If you don’t live there, you should move to Montgomery Co. It’s a wonderful place, where all kinds of things are banned from a public health perspective. Also, what they can’t ban, they try to effectively ban by taxing the hell out of it.

    A pet wouldn’t spontaneously develop a virus without being exposed to it. If the monkey’s only exposure is to humans, then where would it pick one up? Of course, now that they’ve put it in a zoo (not in Montgomery Co, they’re too highly evolved, they leave it to us rednecks up in Frederick Co to do that…but I digress).

    he goes au naturel and watches DVDs with other monkeys

    Sounds like my downstairs neighbors.

    Hey, now!

  4. My recommendation?

    She should move over the river to Virginia and bring your monkey home.

    I know, I know, this sounds like the usual “If you’re not happy, you can always move” troll argument but in the capital region that advice is actually sound. You can’t drive five feet down there without crossing a state line.

  5. accommodations for which Gazewitz is billed $1,344 a month

    (a) Reminiscent of the Chinese practice of charging the families of the judicially terminated for the bullet, no?

    (b) $1344 a month for a frickin’ monkey house? You gotta be kiddin’ me.

  6. $1344 a month is a bargain compared to what I’m paying for rent.

    And, no, I can’t have monkeys in my apartment, but I can watch DVDs au naturel.

  7. Life is better with monkeys.

  8. But it seems to me it should be possible to address concerns about monkey-transmitted disease without banning them as pets.

    Why does this seem possible? I look at this from the perspective that primates aren’t animals which have gone through a long domestication process. They aren’t cats or dogs or cows.

  9. Hey, hey, they’re just monkeys.
    People say they monkey around.
    But they’re too busy watching DVDs to put anybody down.

  10. A pet wouldn’t spontaneously develop a virus without being exposed to it. If the monkey’s only exposure is to humans, then where would it pick one up?

    From the human. Of course the monkey strain of the virus introduced via a human source might be different (perhaps it has a different protein coat) and it in turn can be reintroduced into the human population.

    BTW, this is the same process via which chickens, pigs, etc. and humans living together have been transmitting, transforming, etc. viruses, etc. for thousands of years.

  11. I, for one, hope readers don’t ape the recent chicken thread and start making bad jokes.

  12. I don’t want any bad jokes either. But the only way to get a good joke will be to have a million monkeys on keyboards and hope that a good joke is typed by accident.

  13. We should be able to own monkeys.

  14. thoreau,

    That joke shattered into a million pieces. You’ll have to pick them up.

  15. If you don’t live there, you should move to Montgomery Co. It’s a wonderful place, where all kinds of things are banned from a public health perspective. Also, what they can’t ban, they try to effectively ban by taxing the hell out of it.

    Containing/preventing *diseases* is an actual public health issue. We aren’t talking about smoking, cheetoes, or violent video games here.

    Mont. Co. may have an overzealous “public health” policy, but this isn’t an example of it.

  16. I remember the first time I had sex with a monkey.*

    Nah, not going to do that again, I was just monkeying around… please don’t fling any criticisms my way.

    *Chicken thread joke, calm down PEFM, this is not going to devolve into a NAMMLA meeting.

  17. B,

    I’d definately say that programs which deal with the concerns over communicable diseases associated with human and other animal contact is a legitimate government activity.

  18. She should move over the river to Virginia and bring your monkey home.

    I know, I know, this sounds like the usual “If you’re not happy, you can always move” troll argument but in the capital region that advice is actually sound. You can’t drive five feet down there without crossing a state line.

    Yeah, you can keep your monkey, but be ready for the thousands of dollars in fines and penalties should you be caught speeding with it.

  19. Yeah, you can keep your monkey, but be ready for the thousands of dollars in fines and penalties should you be caught speeding with it.

    Let the monkey drive.

  20. Let the monkey drive.

    That just has to be a euphemism for something.

  21. That just has to be a euphemism for something.

    If not, it would make a pretty good name for a rock group.

  22. This monkey’s gonna change my life!

    Mmmmm, I can’t wait to eat that monkey…

  23. Driven Monkey.

  24. Shock the monkey tonight!

  25. Monkey Driver
    You’ve been down too long in the midnight sea
    Oh, what’s becoming of me?

    Ride the tiger
    You can see his stripes but you know he’s clean
    Oh, don’t you see what I mean?

  26. I, for one, hope readers don’t ape the recent chicken thread and start making bad jokes.

    Well, somebody’s going to start making puns, that’s a gibbon.

  27. Dave What’s-His-Name (the guy with the gap in his front teeth) got his start, or close to it, on TV joking about that effort, that just what convalescing people need is the smell of live monkey.

  28. If I had the energy, I’d contribute a monkey pun. But I’m feeling too langur-ous.

  29. I hate every ape I see, from chimpan-a to chimpan-z!

  30. You know, making monkey puns isn’t as easy as you’d initially think. The names of a lot of monkey species are rather obscure.

    Oh, well.

    Goodbye, Colobus.

  31. The author seems surprised by the statement at
    the Israeli zoo about capuchin monkeys being trained as helpers of the disabled. The program for doing this in the U.S. (based originally on the research of Dr. Ann Willard, which is at least 20 years old) has cranked out many a capuchin home helper trained to assist paraplegics and quadriplegics. The subject has been docmented in numerous news snippets and longer television shows, which created enough popular awareness and resonance to generate a “psycho-thriller” movie named “Monkeyshines”, which did reasonably well at the box-office. Yo, Jake, Google the topic next time before making a similar blunder (maybe this all happened before you were born; that’s called “history”).

  32. If these captive-born monkeys carried disease, they surely wouldn’t train them to care for helpless people. These monkeys have been bred and raised in this country for generations and unless they are exposed to a human with a contagious disease, they aren’t going to have one. Living in a controlled environment they are much less likely to make you sick than that fellow who is sneezing in your little office or on an airplane….or even your preschooler coming home from daycare. This is just a fear tactic…a cop out…to deprive people of their right to own property, including the animal of their choice.

  33. “I have colleagues that work with capuchins, and standard equipment includes head-to-toe protective gear, face shields (you can catch some viruses from their saliva), and anti-viral medication (valtrex, I think) kept close at hand.”

    The sheer ignorance in the above statement is overwhelming. You must be talking about a research lab as I live with two adult capuchins and wear no such “protective” thing. They are loving and gentle. Valtrex is for genital herpes and is SEXUALLY spread for crying out loud. Capuchins carry no viruses in their saliva. This is the kind of crap that causes these bans. It is this very kind of ignorance spouted as fact that is the issue at hand. They can be raised wonderfully in the home environment. They live longer in the home environment than in the wild. They are very expensive to maintain and have a very long life span around 46 years. So no, they aren’t for everyone or even most people.

    So yes they do well, if kept by a responsible and knowledgeable caretaker in the home environment. They are not aggressive. They do not carry diseases. Capuchins can bite like every animal, but check the facts. There are hardly ANY reported bites from monkeys as there are with dogs and other termed “domesticated” animals. If cared for properly, they are happy, healthy and not aggressive at all.

    Helping Hands monkeys (look it up on the net) have used these animals for years with quadriplegics, very successfully in fact.

  34. One last thing, you must then believe that these helpless quadriplegics wheel around in face plates and protective gear as they are being FED by these vicious capuchins, and have a ready supply of Valtrex incase they are spit on. Unbelievable. Such garbage.

    Capuchin have been raised and breed in the United States without import since 1976. Perhaps the “herpes spitting” capuchins come from some unyet explored jungle in some parallel universe.

    They are NOT disease carriers and even rabies they can’t carry because it immediately kills them. They can catch or other illnesses like any human, dog or cat. They are not these dirty disease riddled animals that some debase them to be. They are remarkable, brilliant, gorgeous, funny creatures that smell like baby shampoo.

    There are large organizations, you know the ones that don’t want us to have ANY pets and picket KFC… not to name names but they also fill dumpsters with the bodies of puppies and kittens. They fill the ears of our politicians and pray on their ignorance. They don’t know anything about primates, so they take their word for a bunch of idiotic falsehoods.

    To the person who commented “monkeys belong in the jungle”. What jungle? The one that is disappearing due to urbanization??? You mean the one that supplies the bush meat trade (yep they eat capuchin for dinner and supply it by the TRAIN LOAD)Rather dinner than someone’s passion?

    Look, my monkeys are my life. They are what I do with my life. I don’t work, I am with them 24/7 and they have a life that would be coveted by the MAJORITY of AMERICAN children in the United States. Now I am NOT saying they are children, they are primates and raised as such, but they have the life style and privilege that would be the envy of many human children.

    Don’t “save” them from the home environment… regulate the home environment so they all have what they need. Don’t “save” the public from them… there is no potential harm from these house cat sized primates. Just save the politicians from the sheer ignorance that is whispered in their ear and that causes these bans. These bans do more harm to these primates than they know.

  35. The problem surrounding this tiny animal and his adopted human mother is that she yelled and grabbed and tried to hold on to her beloved pet.

    For that she is being railroaded by the entire political machine of Montgomery County in the city of Rockville. They are all acting as an efficient Nazi Germany Era machine, all to back the cold and almost sociopathic (hummmmm, that’s also Nazi isn’t it) behavior of a demoted cop who now acts as the dog catcher.
    Now called Animal Control. As in we control animals because we catch them and we kill almost all of them.

    There is enormous conflict of interest, in that the only interest was the County of Montgomery finding that the County of Mongomery was innocent of retaliating and punishing Eylse Gazewitz for l) having and loving a little capuchin baby monkey and by all standards maintaining this monkey child in excellent physical and psychologal condition and 2) not doing exhaustive personal research at law libraries and animal sanctuaries to see that the law which had allowed pet monkeys for 300 years in Maryland had recently changed–around the birthday of the baby Armani, and 3) that because “she brought this on herself by running around and blabbing to all the media” she is now under felony criminal charge, they have confiscated the monkey and refuse to let anyone private or media see, hear or photograph it. I do not believe it is with other monkeys happily watching TV. They have no other isolated captive monkeys at that private zoo! Officially the zoo has been
    slapped with a total silence edict and they are forbidden to discuss him with anyone private or media. June can only parrott over and over, “we are instructed to tell everyone that the animal is not for public viewing.”

    And 4. On checking with what they have based this bizarre total isolation of a living creature on–what code, statute, law, job description, memo, etc. that backs it up?

    THERE IS NONE. It is all labelled “an
    Administrative Decision?” Translated: there is nothing to back it up. We just wanted to really punish Eylse, now —- off everybody!
    What the police does the police does!

    To everyone in Montgomery County–the Police Chief is ELECTED! Register to vote now.
    Manger has just hidden from this completely and even Allan’s boss, a cop named Drew Tracy, tries to distance himself by saying that he has nothing to do with these decisions.

    Then who the hell does? Find out and you’ll see why the country is crumbled like old moldy bread.

    The County Attorney Leon Rogriquez is also Elected, I believe.

    You cannot believe the piles and piles of ca-ca you can uncover if you have a free phone and time to make at least 50 calls, and some of those 2 or 3 times to clarify more ca-ca from another phone call.

    You can voice your disapproval of human and animal abuse, of retaliation and punishment on the part of an angry demoted cop, basically, by all the hierarcy of the local governmental
    legal machine by sending even $2.00 for the mounting legal expenses to armaniswishlist. If you can pop for more, please please do.
    Or if you can volunteer legal research time, phone time or generally just scope out how this was done and document your findings, please do. $$$$$ is so necessary. She is a dog groomer, not rich, and they expect her to cave in right about now. They have everything going for them, but the public outcry could make it all “go Nifong” on them. That would be a Town Meeting called by the Montgomery County COUNCIL. The County COUNCIL not the county attorny. The county COUNCILMEN can actually look into the workings of the County Attorny. It’s called America. It’s called checks and balances. It’s the entire basis of our law and the reason every human on earth is trying to live here.

    Do something. Please.

    Submitted without preview due to time contraint. Msspelled words? Live with it.

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