Video: Willis explores his habitat. (Angela Grimes / Born Free USA)
It’s troublesome to know the place Willis, who consultants estimate is 2 or 3 years previous, started his younger life.
Presumably, he was born in a breeding facility then torn from his mom when he was only a child. His former proprietor seemingly bought him on-line and introduced him to Chicago, the place he was stored in a parrot cage.
It’s straightforward — too straightforward — to purchase a monkey like Willis off the web, mentioned Angela Grimes, CEO of the animal safety group Born Free USA.
Chicagoan Grimes was a part of an effort final month to rescue Willis from a South Aspect house the place somebody was illegally harboring him as a pet.
“After all, any condo or house or any personal setting isn’t appropriate for a monkey, who’s a wild animal,” Grimes mentioned.
It’s unlawful in Illinois for a non-public particular person to personal, breed or promote a monkey. State legislation (720 ILCS 5/48-10 / Public Act 97-1108) additionally bans possession of “harmful animals” like lions, bobcats and toxic snakes.
WTTW Information has a pending public info request to be taught whether or not any costs have been filed towards Willis’s captor.
However simply over the border, Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources confirms there isn’t any state legislation prohibiting primate possession.
“It’s potential any person can nearly cross the road, purchase one (a monkey) legally after which carry it again house to the town,” Grimes mentioned.
Whereas there are some federal restrictions on breeding and promoting, the regulation of untamed and unique animals is basically left to states, leading to what Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., whose district covers the house from which Willis was rescued, described as an “insufficient patchwork” of laws.
“Willis the monkey slipped by the cracks,” Rush mentioned in a press release. “Whereas I’m grateful that Willis the monkey is now secure and within the care of a sanctuary, this story might have ended far in a different way — and harmful predicaments like these are sadly all too frequent. The story of Willis the monkey is precisely why I cosponsored and am pushing for passage of the Captive Primate Security Act.”
U.S. House Resolution 3135 would prohibit interstate gross sales of primates and ban the personal possession, breeding and public contact of monkeys.
“Public contact is a crucial a part of that. So that will be like petting zoos, the place you go and get your promenade image taken with a monkey,” Grimes mentioned.
Born Free USA can also be lobbying Congress to go the Large Cat Public Security Act, the same proposal for which U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., is the lead sponsor. U.S. House Resolution 263 would prohibit cub-petting and personal possession of lions, tigers, leopards and pumas.
Each measures are targeted on personal possession and make exemptions for zoos.
Animal rights organizations have been advocating for stricter federal limits on unique animals for years, however Grimes is optimistic the efforts have momentum behind them, given the general public consideration delivered to the problem final yr by the pandemic-popular Tiger King Netflix docuseries.
The second season of Tiger King is scheduled to premiere Nov. 17.
Grimes mentioned bans on captive possession of those animals is for their very own welfare, in addition to for the safety of individuals.
Take Willis, who Grimes expects was torn from his mom when he was very younger, “which is extremely detrimental to the mother, who has simply misplaced a child she’s given beginning to, but in addition to the kid. Monkeys stick with their moms for years and be taught their behaviors, discover ways to act and be a monkey.”
Even in captivity, as monkeys develop up, Grimes mentioned their instincts start to kick in.
“They turn out to be aggressive. They’re appearing out. They’re in lots of circumstances simply being a monkey, however in a cage. In a house,” she mentioned. “That may turn out to be each harmful for the monkey in addition to for the individuals. There’s danger of bites, assaults, even loss of life.”
Vervet monkeys like Willis — who has massive brown eyes, a protracted tail, and slender physique coated in shocks of black-and-tan hair — are native to Africa.
“He ought to be together with his household there, not right here in the US,” Grimes mentioned, “however he received’t ever be capable to reside within the wild.”
As an alternative, he’ll spend the remainder of his days at Born Free USA’s sanctuary in Texas, the place he’s shortly taken benefit of his new house, spending his days seemingly bouncing with a spring inside his little, athletic physique as he scurries throughout ropes, climbs ladders and performs on platforms.
Guests aren’t permitted; it’s an animal sanctuary supposed for animals’ profit, Grimes mentioned.
However his title hints at his time in Chicago: His caretakers selected Willis after the Willis Tower.
And people who hope to make sure he’s bought higher days forward can assist to undertake Willis.
According to his adoption page, Willis “enjoys rolling himself up in his blanket – like a monkey burrito – after which tearing off to play on his swing.
Hanging the other way up is a very enjoyable method to have a look at the world if you end up Willis.
And, enjoying along with your tail, which has a lifetime of its personal, by no means will get previous!
Assembly different monkeys continues to be just a little daunting, however Willis is regularly making pals. That’s really thrilling as a result of everybody is aware of one of the best video games are performed with different monkeys.”
Comply with Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky