'My Monkey Baby': Couples Treat Adopted Monkeys as Children

Documentary airing on TLC looks at couples who adopt baby capuchins as children.

ByABC News via logo
October 31, 2008, 4:06 PM

Oct. 2, 2009— -- Jesus and Carmen waited seven years, until they were financially stable, to adopt a newborn.

But the Indiana couple didn't adopt a human baby. They adopted a baby monkey.

"She's pretty much our entire lives, actually," Jesus said of baby "Butters."

Monkey business is big business in the United States, where some people pay up to $5,000 to adopt a monkey of their own, often a capuchin monkey, which can grow up to 22 inches and 9 pounds. There are hundreds of videos on the Internet of proud parents enjoying their monkeys, and an estimated 15,000 monkeys live with humans as pets or surrogate children in the United States.

And in some cases, monkey babies are more than pets: They are sons and daughters. These families dress their monkeys, feed them at the dinner table and treat them like any other member of the family.

A number of couples who have adopted monkey babies, sometimes referred to as "monkids," are the subject of the documentary "My Monkey Baby," airing this weekend on TLC.

Watch "My Monkey Baby" Sunday, Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. on TLC.

Jesus and Carmen decided not to have children because of Jesus' own difficult childhood. But they are devoted parents to Butters.

Carmen crocheted clothes in anticipation of her daughter's arrival, and dotes on her "baby girl," who wears diapers sized for premature infants.

"She is gorgeous," Jesus said in "My Monkey Baby." "Hi, little girl."

"Look at those big pretty eyes," Carmen gushed. "Yeah, those pretty eyes."

Jesus and Carmen take Butters in a baby carrier when they leave home.

"We carry her in a little baby pen, so it draws less attention," Jesus said. "We haven't had a single place yet ask us not to bring her in or anything. Typically, we end up having all the workers around taking pictures."

Like any cute baby, Butters draws oohs and aahs from onlookers. And, as with any baby, she can be quite demanding.

"We've got 24-hour-a-day supervision with her," Jesus said. "Me and Carmen have already worked our work schedules so one of us is either always here or we got the babysitter here for her."