How to Buy a Chimpanzee

Updated February 21, 2017

Due to the increasing number of "face eating" incidents across the U.S., many states and municipalities have moved to ban private ownership of chimpanzees. That said, chimps are only split-listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and the Supreme Court rarely interferes with interstate commerce, reducing a significant amount of red tape for would-be chimp owners. The purpose of this article is to outline the restrictions on non-endangered, non-human primates like chimps, as well as prominent breeders/importers and the necessary licensing, fees and facilities.

Simply find a seller. In these states, there are no laws regulating private ownership of chimpanzees as pets. Visit the sites "" and "" to search for breeders or to browse available babies.

Once you make contact, visit for a listing of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-licensed breeders and dealers. Organised by state, this online database also lists the inspection report history for each licensed seller, so you can make sure you won't be getting a diseased or abused chimp. Note: A pet owner (as opposed to a professional breeder/dealer) who sells his chimp doesn't need to be licensed (and thus won't be in this database). As such, the chimp could be perfectly fine but buyer beware.

For payment, use a certified check or money order and make sure the exchange happens on site.

Go to the site "" for a complete list of links to Wildlife Agencies for all 50 states. Owning a pet chimpanzee is legal in these states but requires a permit from the state Wildlife Agency.

Follow the link to your state and either download a permit application or e-mail the site's webmaster to request information about getting a permit for a chimpanzee. Note: When contacting these agencies, mention specifically (and repeatedly) that it is a "chimpanzee" you want. Don't call it a "monkey" or "primate."

Ask the agency for a copy of the physical specifications for a secure chimp enclosure.

Hire a contractor to build the structure. Expect to pay around £10,400 for this (materials and labour included).

Once complete, schedule an appointment with the Wildlife Agency to inspect the premises. If all goes well, you'll get the permit.

Follow Steps 2, 3 and 4 from the first section to purchase the chimp.

Send an e-mail to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at "" In this message, explain that you would like to apply for an "animal performer" license for a "single chimpanzee." In these two states, it is illegal to own a chimpanzee as a pet. However, there are no laws regulating owning a chimpanzee as an exhibitor for commercial purposes.

Request a copy of the physical dimensions and other specifications for the enclosure required by USDA APHIS inspectors.

Pay a contractor roughly £10,400 to build the enclosure.

Visit "" for a complete listing of wholesale chimp dealers approved by the US Centers For Disease Control (CDC) to import chimps.

Visit "" to find links to your state's Wildlife Agency website. In these states, it is illegal to own chimpanzees as pet,s but commercial exhibitors are allowed to own chimps for business purposes as long as they have an exhibitor's permit and a USDA exhibitor's license.

Either download application forms for "Exotic Animal Exhibitor Permits" or contact the webmaster to schedule an interview.

Meanwhile, send an e-mail to USDA-APHIS at "" requesting an application for an "animal performer" license for a "single chimpanzee". Also, request a copy of the physical dimensions and other specifications for the enclosure required by USDA APHIS inspectors.

Have a contractor build the enclosure. Specifications are basically the same for permit and license.

Have the chimp examined by a licensed veterinarian for illnesses.

Give up. Sorry all you would-be Jane Goodalls; Florida and Alaska only allow zoos, universities and biomedical research companies to own chimpanzees. However, there might be a loophole in Alaskan law. Basically, privately owned chimpanzees are allowed in the state if they are performing in a film or TV program shot on location in the state.

Establish residence in another state.

Obtain a USDA "Animal Performer" exhibitor license.

Buy the chimpanzee.

Start a cable-access TV show in Alaska or add the chimp to the local Juneau news team or create a continual, 30-year "7-Up!"-type documentary starring the chimp on location in Alaska.

Things You'll Need

  • House
  • Commercial property zoned For animal exhibitions
  • A USDA license for exotic animals as required by the U.S. Animal Welfare Act
  • Between £26,000 and £39,000
  • In some states, a veterinary license
  • In some states, a caged enclosure
  • Building contractor
  • Building permit
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About the Author

A Chicago-based copywriter, Andy Pasquesi has extensive experience writing for automotive (BMW, MINI Cooper, Harley-Davidson), financial services (Ivy Funds, William Blair, T. Rowe Price, CME Group), healthcare (Abbott) and consumer goods (Sony, Motorola, Knoll) clients. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University but does not care for the Oxford comma.