Monkey business

10th May 2013 at 01:00
No passport. No health certificate. How Justin Bieber's pet capuchin ended up stranded in Germany

Justin Bieber's monkey Mally will be sent to live in a zoo after the pop star told the German authorities that he would not be reclaiming the animal.

Mally was seized by customs officials at Munich airport in March. The capuchin monkey was flown in with Bieber on his private jet, without the correct papers, when the singer arrived in the country to tour.

Mally was given to Bieber for his 19th birthday earlier this year by music producer Jamal Rashid. It was later claimed that the baby monkey had been taken from its mother when it was only nine weeks old. Capuchin monkeys - found in Central and South America - usually remain with their mothers for at least the first year of their lives.

Mally was held in a Munich animal shelter, with only a cuddly toy as a companion. Shelter director Karl Heinz Joachim described the situation as "heartbreaking" and said he was relieved that Mally would now be living with his own kind.

"There are a great many suitable places that have offered to take Mally and integrate him with their own capuchin monkeys," Joachim said.

"A baby monkey was never going to be suited to be on a world tour, even if he is travelling by private jet. He should be out in the wild climbing trees and learning from other monkeys if he isn't to have serious psychological problems later in life."

Bieber could face prosecution in Germany because of his actions, with a possible fine of up to EUR50,000. He has not commented on the situation.

Inevitably, comparisons have been drawn between Bieber and Michael Jackson. The late singer had a menagerie of wild animals, including a chimpanzee called Bubbles that lived with Jackson in his home until he grew too large and unmanageable. Bubbles now lives with a family of chimpanzees at the Center for Great Apes in Florida, US.

Not so long ago, it was widely acceptable for exotic animals to be kept as pets. In the 19th century, warehouses of caged beasts could be found in London and other cities. The animals had been imported from around the world and were for sale as living trophies.

The exotic pet trade remains big business, even though in many countries it is against the law to sell protected wildlife in shops, at auctions or over the internet.

Many animals do not survive the journey from their native country and those that do often die prematurely from malnutrition and the effects of living in unsuitable environments. Others die because of stress or loneliness.

According to wildlife and animal authorities, animals fare best in their native environments.

Class questions

- Should wild animals ever be kept as pets? If not, why? Ask the class to discuss in pairs, then debate their conclusions.

- Name five animals found in a rainforest. Why is the climate and environment important to them?

- Do animals have souls? How do different religions view animals and why? For example, why do Jews not eat pork or shellfish?

- What is your favourite animal and why? Could you keep this animal at your house?

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