MOM & ME
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.
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.
In the wild, Capuchins eat things like fruits, nuts and insects, but Ricci reportedly can’t resist her monkeys’ begging for people food.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.