Add pet spider monkeys to a list that includes Medicaid, historic-rehabilitation tax credits and nursing-home bonus payments - things Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers couldn't agree on in the state's $62 billion budget.
Add pet spider monkeys to a list that includes Medicaid, historic-rehabilitation tax credits and nursing-home bonus payments — things Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers couldn’t agree on in the state’s $62 billion budget.
Kasich line-item vetoed a budget provision on Sunday that would have allowed spider monkeys to go unregulated under the new exotic-animals law, calling the proposal an “unjustified step backward.”
In a budget season that brought fights over abortion, health care and breaks for businesses, the amendment passed in the budget on Thursday with little discussion from lawmakers.
Although spider monkeys seem harmless — even adorable — at first, wildlife experts say the 3-foot-tall primates often become violent toward humans who try to domesticate them. If kept isolated in captivity, the monkeys develop mental problems that cause them to bite, choke and maim people.
“It certainly wouldn’t be good for the monkey,” said Lewis Greene, senior vice president for animal care and conservation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “We don’t believe wild animals make good pets.”
Spider monkeys, which generally come from Central and South America, are more intelligent than nearly all other primates, Greene said. The exotic-animal law, slated to take effect next year, will require owners to get a state permit and maintain certain habitat standards in order to keep pets classified as “dangerous,” including four common species of spider monkeys.
Kasich’s veto followed the recommendation of Ohio Department of Agriculture veterinarians, department spokeswoman Erica Hawkins said.
“I think the law is entirely appropriate,” said Don Velcio, a Cleveland resident who relocated his 24-year-old pet spider monkey to a primate sanctuary in Florida last month in response to the new law.
Amy, a black spider monkey with a white belly, had grown more unruly as she matured, Velcio said. He and his wife consulted with experts and found monkeys do not fare well in isolation, even in Amy’s state-of-the-art habitat.
Although Amy was never a threat, others become violent.
“If they go up on you, they can just explode,” said Kari Bagnall, the founder of Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary in Gainesville, Fla., where Amy now lives. “They’re all legs and tail. And if they wrap those around you, you’re not getting away.”