UPDATE: My brother informs me I have some details wrong in my monkey story, so I am editing for further accuracy.
I have quite a few Taiwanese blogs showing up in my RSS reader and every so often a post will catch my eye. Over at IslaFormosa.com, there was an interesting post entitled Orangutan Alert and Other Strange House Pets
IslaFormosa teaches English in Taiwan and…
I was teaching apologies and excuses to my students. I gave an example of a lousy excuse: “I really wanted to but I had to look after my pet monkey.”
Being Canadian, I thought this was really ridiculous and far-fetched. One student looked perplexed though. I asked her what was up and she said that, in fact, her neighbor across the street actually had a monkey.
“Are you sure?”, I asked.
“Yeah, it’s orange.”
Orangutan immediately came to mind. I probed a little further but she started to become quiet after I mentioned that orangutans where banned as pets (and in Taipei city no less!!!).
The post goes on to mention that 1,000 baby orangutans were smuggled to Taiwan from Kalimantan on Borneo between 1985 and 1990 and sold as exotic pets.
The reason for this surge in orangutans as pets? A popular Taiwanese television program that featured a live orangutan as the perfect pet and companion!
Not surprisingly, smuggling and poaching was how baby orangutans got into Taiwanese homes. Also predictably, the cute and cuddly baby orangutans grow up and become not-so cute and totally unmanageable adult oranugtans. In 1990, the Taiwanese government made it illegal to have orangutans as pets, but I guess some of them are still around.
This reminds me of a story that my Mom told me about her older brother (my uncle) when they were growing up in Taipei. Mind you, this was a different time, so Taipei wasn’t as urban then as it is now, but basically, my uncle had a pet monkey (I don’t know what kind; my Mom just said it was a “猴子,” she didn’t say it was an orangutan “猩猩”). I guess my uncle LOVED this monkey and raised it from from it was baby. As it got bigger, no one could control this monkey and it would run around the house getting into everything and throwing its doody all over the place, but my uncle loved the monkey so much that he let it do whatever it wanted. And since my uncle was the oldest boy, anything he wanted went.
the monkey was doing its usual uncontrollable thing and it got outside and some school kids (neighborhood kids?) were picking on the monkey… throwing rocks and stuff at it. The monkey freaked out and it tried to get away by climbing the electric pole. My uncle was yelling at the monkey to get down, but of course the monkey didn’t listen to him. It was jumping around and then swinging from place to place until it reached up and grabbed some electrical wires where it was promptly electrocuted to death and fell to ground into a lifeless pile in front of my uncle’s eyes.
My Mom said she had never seen her older brother cry over anything before and never forgot that monkey or how it died.
Anyway, I guess the point of all this is that people have different ideas about what animals are appropriate as pets. You would think in this day in age that people know that monkeys aren’t appropriate pets. But even in modern day in urbanized places like Taipei, some people still have wild boars chained up in front of their homes/stores.
What are some of the strange pets that you’ve encountered?