FUNNY WOMEN #95: Confessions of a Pet Chimpanzee Attackee


I’m not going to get into the whole who-illegally-sold-a-pet-chimpanzee-to-whom thing, but with the onslaught of chimpanzee attacks that are being, well, exploited in the news these days, I had to come forward. You see, I am a survivor of a chimpanzee attack–an attack by my pet chimpanzee, my darling Bentley–and yes, fine, I suppose you could say he ate my face.

A piece of it, anyway.

But am I getting all upset and making a big deal about it? You bet I’m not! If a member of your family had a bad day, would you want to have him euthanized? “Of course not!” I imagine you saying.

A lot of people, let’s call them animal rights activists, have been spouting off indignant–and I must add–ignorant questions, like, “Don’t you think a chimpanzee wants to be with its own kind?” Well, of course I do! And guess what? My friend (who also must obviously remain anonymous here) acquired a monkey of her own. A little girl monkey named Tiffany Sue. So we did the obvious and moral thing: we held a little wedding for them. Bentley and Tiffany Sue were “officially” wed right here in my living room, in a ceremony attended by their closest friends. As you can imagine, we put a great deal of care and planning into this event.

I will admit that Bentley was a weensy impatient when he was being fitted for his little tux. But it’s not like you can just buy a monkey a tuxedo off the rack. Ultimately, it was all worth it when he saw Tiffany Sue being walked down the aisle by my friend’s husband. She looked ah-mah-zing! The fitted bodice, the low-cut back (to allow for her tail, of course)–just like a princess! Bentley got so excited when he saw her he jumped up and down! He literally jumped up and down, as monkeys are wont to do.

The happily hitched couple did appear somewhat confused when we unwrapped for them their lovely silver-plated hostess platter with their names engraved on it, but I’m sure they were just overwhelmed, what with all the cameras flashing and champagne popping and clapping. But do you know what those precious two did? They held hands! They stood right there in their little wedding clothes and held hands and looked from us to each other like they couldn’t believe it was all happening, that they were getting their happily ever after fairy tale/tail royalty wedding celebration!

Now I’ll acknowledge that I thought Bentley looked surprised when Tiffany Sue was bundled back into her hot pink parka and hustled out the door after the reception. It was not long after that when I noticed Bentley didn’t seem to be himself.

I never could have dreamed what would come next. What happened next was not in my monkey wedding dream journal at all.

That evening, when I called Bentley to come get into his jammies, he didn’t come running. I found him perched on the overstuffed cushion by the window, and it seemed to me he was staring longingly across the yard. Maybe it was my imagination. Maybe he just wasn’t feeling well; it is true that Taco Bell can sometimes disagree with him. Or perhaps the full implications of the sham wedding to Tiffany Sue were beginning to set in. Whatever it was, when his big brown eyes met mine, it wasn’t Bentley looking back. I pretended he wasn’t hurting my feelings with his ungrateful attitude. I held up his Angry Bird footed-pajamas in what I thought was an enticing gesture–and that’s when he bared his monkey teeth! Suddenly, it was on, as they say, like Donkey-Kong. Making nightmare-inducing screeching sounds, he lunged at me, and pulling my face toward his (and–I must say–making commendable use of opposable thumbs), I felt those pretty teeth of his tearing into my cheek.

At the emergency room, I confess, I may have implicated our neighbor’s pit bull in the damage done to my face, and as a result Gomer may have been picked up by the local authorities and euthanized. But really it was just a matter of time before that monster hurt somebody, anyway. Dogs, right?

Weeks later, after I got out of the hospital, I talked my husband into converting our garage into a habitat for Bentley. In he went with his bunk bed and toys. It was like giving him a big-boy room.

So things have settled down here, although I can’t say they’re back to normal. I always think Bentley is looking at me differently now, although maybe it’s the Plexiglas in the garage window that I wave to him through, or maybe it’s my facial prosthetics that have him discombobulated.

There’s really no reason for him to be unhappy: twice a day we slide the lever that opens the door for him to run out into a little fenced-in play yard (it’s not really a kennel, even though that’s what the kit said), and every few hours we shove food into his cage–I mean, “his room,” of course–through the little trap door my husband installed. We give him all his favorites and as much as he wants! It seems to keep him quiet, although I must say he’s grown remarkably obese; even though he shredded his Angry Bird jammies the minute I shoved them through the trap door, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t fit into them anymore anyway. And it’s hard, really, to tell through that Plexiglas, but I think sometimes he’s huffing and puffing, as though he’s having trouble getting his breath…poor little guy.

But enough about Bentley, that spoiled thing! I’m thinking of adopting an underprivileged child out of the foster care system. It would be fun to have a little girl this time, like think of the cute tiny clothes! I’ve always wanted to do the whole pageant circuit. That’s just who I am. I’m all about giving, that’s what Bentley would say if he could talk. I’m all about sharing the American Dream.


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Susan Fair lives on the shoulder of South Mountain in Maryland. She works for a wonderful public library system, writes a lot of stuff for a lot of publications, and is reasonably well-tolerated by her Park Ranger husband. As a child she was bitten by a neighbor’s pet spider monkey. She assumes she/he was in a pissy mood because of having to spend her/his life in a bird cage and does not hold a grudge, but rather, judges each monkey based on her/his own merits. More from this author →