Courtesy of the Johnson Family
  • monkids

    Many parents face empty-nest syndrome when their kids move out of the house, but some parents have a unique way of filling the void -- by raising monkeys as children. These "monkids," as many people who have brought monkeys into their families call them, raise a lot of eyebrows but these "new parents" say they feel fulfilled. <p> <b>These families with monkids were featured on ABC News' "Primetime" in June 2008.</b>
    Courtesy of the Johnson Family
  • monkids

    Lori and Jim Johnson are all smiles on their wedding day with their capuchin monkey Jessy. Lori had the satin dress made specifically for the occasion. The couple has been married nine years now and Jim said that living with Jessy was "all part of the deal" and that he "signed up for both" when he married Lori.
    Courtesy of the Johnson Family
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    Lori says Jessy is like a daughter to her. She treats Jessy like any other child, having her sit at the dinner table and eat off china. She even scolds Jessy if she doesn't mind her manners.
    Courtesy of the Johnson Family
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    It's estimated that there are 15,000 monkeys purchased as pets or surrogate children and living with humans in the United States alone. While many of the people who buy the monkeys may treat them as if they were little humans, these primates are from the South American rainforest and in their normal habitat spend two-thirds of the day feeding and hunting for their dinner.
    Courtesy of the Johnson Family
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    Lori has several homemade dresses for her monkey, Jessy. Lori, the mother of six children, fell into a deep depression when the last of her children graduated from high school and moved out. She says Jessy helped fill this void for her. <p> "I was really depressed, and I wanted something that was going to take over for my kids," Lori said.
    Courtesy of the Johnson Family
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    Jessy's parents say she acts more like a human than a monkey. In fact, they say she doesn't even like other monkeys and prefers to play with children instead. But Jessy's parents have to be careful because she still has many animal-like qualities about her. She has even swatted a child. Lori says that as a precaution they had Jessy's teeth removed.
    Courtesy of the Johnson Family
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    Angelle Sampey is a professional motorcycle drag racer. Seven years ago she wanted children, but because of her job she felt having a human child wasn't an option. So Sampey, the winningest woman in NHRA history and holder of several national records, decided to get a monkey. <p></p> "I can't race and, you know, bear a child," she said. "And I thought adopting a monkey as a surrogate child would be a good thing to do."
    Courtesy of Angelle Sampey
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    Sampey found her capuchin monkey, Andy, the same way thousands of other Americans found theirs: on the Internet. She bought him from a breeder in the Midwest and Andy was flown to Louisiana on an airplane. Sampey said little Andy brought her sheer joy. <p> "I was so happy. I had a baby," she said. "I could dress him, put a diaper on him, and he would drink bottles."
    Courtesy of Angelle Sampey
  • monkids

    Despite the joy Andy brought Sampey, she was devastated to find out after she bought her monkey that some monkeys are taken from their mothers. In some cases captors dart the mothers to sedate them when they separate the babies. Sampey felt horrible that she might have separated Andy from his mother and believes that he acted out because he was taken from his real mother and was suffering from the absence. <p> "He is a wild monkey," she said. "He is never gonna be domesticated. And it took me seven years to realize that."
    Courtesy of Angelle Sampey
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