Margaret Hosseini’s new book A Trial of Faith: When the Devil Knows Your Name, shares her experiences protecting primates and owners’ rights.
You can purchase Margaret’s book on Amazon>
Following is an excerpt from Chapter Eight of her exciting book, Monkey Love, beginning at page 114:
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In 2012 I learned that a bill had been introduced in the Texas legislature by the Humane Society to ban the private ownership of primates. I immediately got together with as many people in our primate community as I could, and asked their opinions about the legislation. Some agreed that perhaps some primates should be banned, but that others that were thriving in private ownership should not be banned. Many believed that the state should not impose any bans by law. I felt that this was a very important issue, and because of my high level of activity in the primate community, due in no small part to Abby’s status as a primate ambassador to the world, I formed an organization called Texas Primate Owners United, and gathered 3,800 members to it. We represented the interests of private owners in Texas before the legislature. House Bill 1015 proposed to ban the private ownership of primates and tigers in Texas, and I introduced myself to the State Representative Ryan Guillen, who was sponsoring HB 1015.
I was invited to a stakeholder’s meeting, and thought it was a little bit like the Knights of the Round Table. There were representatives from several organizations present, including zoos, sanctuaries, and various primate organizations, and the representative of the Humane Society, who was trying to ban private ownership. At the meeting we discussed the various pros and cons of private ownership, including health and personal risks involved to the animals and their owners. The people from the Humane Society brought some photos and a lot of anecdotal stories about how private ownership of exotic animals is dangerous. The photos purported to show injuries suffered as a result of private ownership, and they talked about how dangerous diseases had been communicated from privately owned primates to their human owners.
I testified before the committee that most primates that are privately owned are around the size and weight of a household cat, so they aren’t a large physical threat. I shared Center for Disease Control documentation demonstrating that there is no proven case of transmitted diseases from primates to humans in private homes in the United States, although there have been a few cases in research facilities. I told them that CDC documentation trumps undocumented anecdotes, and the Humane Society was embarrassed to be caught in bald-faced lies to the committee. I had small booklets printed that were easy reference guides for all of the relevant issues before the committee, and they were in plain language with accompanying photos that demonstrated the points I was making. I explained that the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 had already severely restricted the ownership of Great Apes and many chimpanzees, which could indeed injure humans if not handled by experts. The Humane Society was convoluting chimpanzee attacks with capuchin and spider monkey ownership, muddying the waters to pull a fast one on the legislature. I challenged the Humane Society to produce evidence that the photos they had shared with the committee actually depicted injuries sustained by primate attacks. I showed them photos of dog attacks, and said there was no way to distinguish the photos of the Humane Society with those I had shown, and that without actual evidence, those photos proved nothing. I told them that humans are injured every day by dogs, cats, goats, cows, horses, donkeys, etc. In fact, the least number of injuries come from primates. The Humane Society withdrew their photos and dropped the subject. The truth was that we just did not have a problem in Texas with primates attacking owners or running wild in the streets. Therefore, the restrictions created by the bill were unnecessary, costly, and ineffective. My testimony was successful in eliminating primates from the bill, and private ownership remained in force in Texas.
I had become a nationally known representative of private primate owners, and did a lot of speaking and advocating for safe and healthy ownership, helping people understand the importance of proper training. The Helping Hands organization in Boston was training capuchins to help care for quadriplegic owners who could not perform simple grooming and feeding functions for themselves. Primarily Primates in San Antonio advocates for primates. I donate, and help where and when I can.
I have a primate closed group on Facebook called Monkey411, where we share information about training, housing, medical care and feeding of privately owned primates. I learned about an online group of primate owners and advocates called the Slut Monkeys. It struck me as derogatory, and I couldn’t imagine that such a name for a group could reflect something that would benefit privately owned primates. I’m no prude, however, and wasn’t looking for trouble where none existed. As an advocate for primates, I just keep an open eye, to ensure the safety and health of primates. I looked at the postings of this group, and was appalled to find photos of their primates in very suggestive sexual poses, with one another and with humans, accompanied by racy and provocative comments.
I gained access to the membership of this group and found that there were over 400 members. I contacted the group owners and informed them who I was, and how I tried to provide useful information to the public about private primate ownership, and how I advocated for the safety and health of those primates. I told them that my initial reaction to what they were doing on their Facebook group was harmful to the public perception of private ownership of primates, and it didn’t look very respectful to tell the truth. I wondered aloud that if they were doing these highly questionable things openly with their primates, what might they be doing in private. One photo taken by an animal control officer of her husband with a male primate with a leash around its penis and the husband appearing to blow on it was borderline bestiality as far as I was concerned. An animal control officer was certainly falling below her public standards by being a part of that. Many of the photos looked highly inappropriate—to the extent that if these were human children involved, people would have been arrested. At best, it just all seemed very disrespectful and unhealthy. It reminded me of junior high kids run amok with monkeys while their parents were away for the night. And that was the best-case scenario.
My advice that they adopt a better public persona was immediately rejected, and the attacks against me began. I just didn’t get the humor of it all, according to them. It was all done in fun. Their 400 against one lady who didn’t like what they were doing automatically made me the unreasonable, crazy one. I didn’t wish to get into a fight with them about what is appropriate and what is not. I did report the group to Facebook, however, and suggested that they review what was being published on the group’s pages. Facebook reviewed the postings and found that the group was violating community standards, and shut the group down. The group members became very angry, and went to war against me. They began to report false information against me, saying that I worked at a testing facility that tested on live primates. They even said that the reason that Abby is so bright is not because of any natural ability or extensive training, but because of experiments that we conducted on her at the testing facility. I exposed the lies of these creepy people, and they eventually had to lie low to avoid public scrutiny.
In 2014 Representative Guillen introduced a similar bill to HB 1015, and when I shook his hand at the stakeholder’s meeting, he said, “Oh, I remember you. You’re the lady that represents the little bitty monkeys.”
“Yes, that’s me. I’m here again. I don’t understand why we’re doing this again.”
He looked over at his assistant and told her, “Take the monkeys off. We don’t need the monkeys on the bill.”
I smiled and told him goodbye. Mission accomplished.
End of Excerpt