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Lacey, a black-capped Capuchin, joins Mom for a spin around the neighborhood. The monkey is just one of around 15,000 primates that are pets in the U.S., and that number is on the rise.
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Ricci and Lacey gear up for some fun in the family’s playroom. Still, experts take the interest in the pets seriously, cautioning that they require round-the-clock care and attention.
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In the wild, Capuchins eat things like fruits, nuts and insects, but Ricci reportedly can’t resist her monkeys’ begging for people food.
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Sadly, Lacey has developed diabetes as a result of her human-food diet – namely spaghetti and salad with dressing. As a result, she regularly has her blood sugar tested and receives insulin doses.
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You can’t go to bed without reading a story! Ricci settles in for some quiet time with her little Lacey. “I’m a monkey mom, that’s my identity,” she has said.
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WATCH & LEARN
Lacey and Cleo have their own TV, allowing them to watch cartoons at their leisure. Generally, black-capped Capuchins are social creatures, and roam South America in large groups led by one alpha male.
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Ricci makes bath time lots of fun with a soft scrub in the kitchen sink. Though the small monkeys can appear gentle, they can still pose a threat to their people. “They are wild animals, and they bite,” says Kari Bangall, founder of the Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, in My Child Is a Monkey.
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Cleo – in a pint-sized diaper and sweater – poses for a shot at just 1 month old (she’s 3 years old now). Capuchin babies can cost $5,000 or more when purchased through breeders, but adults are considerably less expensive.
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Lacey, then 1, gets to know her little sis. Trained Capuchins can actually assist humans in ways similar to dogs, performing easy motor tasks for physically-challenged owners, like Marine Cpl. Tim Jeffers, whom PEOPLE profiled in February.