Dez Bryant Belongs on the Field; His Monkey Belongs in a Sanctuary

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After learning that Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant recently acquired a baby monkey, PETA sent a letter to local authorities in DeSoto, Texas—where Bryant owns a home—urging them to ensure that the capuchin, now named Dallas, is transferred to an accredited sanctuary that’s equipped to meet his unique needs. As PETA pointed out in its letter, possession of monkeys is prohibited within DeSoto unless the owner has been granted a special-use permit, which private individuals like Bryant are not eligible for.

“Monkeys belong in the wild—not in the hands of football players who acquire exotic animals just to make a splash on Instagram,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “This baby capuchin was torn away from his mother shortly after birth and needs special care that can now only be provided by wildlife experts who will be able to ensure that he gets the love and attention he deserves.”

PETA has already secured space at an accredited primate sanctuary that stands ready to take in Dallas, who would be introduced to an adult female capuchin who could act as a surrogate mother figure. He would also be able to socialize and develop with members of his own species.

Capuchin Monkey in Rain Forest

PETA’s letter to Carmen Humble, administrative assistant for code enforcement, follows:

October 23, 2015

Dear Ms. Humble:

I am writing on behalf of PETA to request that DeSoto Animal Control immediately investigate the possible illegal possession of an infant capuchin monkey by Dallas Cowboys football player Dez Bryant. An October 2 news report indicates that Bryant, who apparently lives in DeSoto, may have acquired an infant capuchin monkey. If he is found to be in illegal possession of this monkey, please seize the monkey and ensure that he or she is placed in a reputable sanctuary. PETA stands ready to assist with the placement of the animal.

Possession of monkeys is prohibited within DeSoto unless the owner has been granted a special use permit.1 Bryant is not eligible for such a permit, as these permits may be granted only to the following: “public zoo, governmental entity, public or private primary or secondary schools, a retail pet distributor … animal exhibition, rodeo or circus,” which are all subject to certain conditions—and not to private individuals.2 If Bryant or any other individual is found in illegal possession of this infant capuchin, please seize this animal pursuant to DeSoto Mun. Code 2.1200 (“any animal found to be in violation of [the Animal Control Code]” may be impounded).

Capuchin monkeys used as pets are typically torn away from their mothers at birth, whereas in the wild, they would naturally spend several months, if not years, by their mother’s side. Capuchin monkeys are intelligent, curious, and highly social animals who naturally live in large groups. A human home denies them mental stimulation and opportunities for social interaction with other monkeys, which can lead to boredom and depression. Monkeys are wild animals, and as such, they can become frustrated, aggressive, and difficult to control as they get older—and they can and will bite humans.

Captive monkeys should be cared for by wildlife experts who understand their physical and psychological needs and in facilities where they can live in natural social groups—they should not be in the hands of an NFL football player. This infant animal must be urgently relocated to a reputable animal sanctuary, where he or she can be provided with appropriate care. PETA stands ready to assist your investigation in any way, including with arranging for placement of the monkey at a reputable sanctuary.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this important matter.

Very truly yours,

Brittany Peet, Esq.
PETA Foundation
Deputy Director, Captive Animal Law Enforcement

1“It shall be unlawful for any person to exhibit, possess or harbor a wild animal within the city without a permit.” De Soto Mun. Code 2.800(a). A “wild animal” is defined as (in pertinent part) “[a]ll species of animals which commonly exist in a natural unconfined state and are usually not domesticated. This shall apply regardless of state or duration of captivity. Such animals shall include, but are not limited to … Order Primata (such as monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas).”

2Mun. Code 2.800(b).

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