a screaming chimp
a screaming chimp

Dear Paul, Fear of having face eaten putting a strain on the relationship

Paul Kiernan

... but mostly, I am afraid of having my face eaten off if the chimp goes berserk.

Dear Paul,

I live with my long-time boyfriend, and things are good, but lately, he has said he wants a pet. I suggested a dog or a cat, but he insists we get a chimp. It seems to me that having a chimp would take a lot of time and cost a lot of money. Those are concerns, but mostly, I am afraid of having my face eaten off if the chimp goes berserk. My boyfriend says that’s not a thing, but I really believe it is. Can you offer any advice?


Going Bananas

a man with a bloody face and gauze over his eyes

Dear Bananas,

You are quite right. Chimps are known to attack faces and hands when they are threatened or angry.

There are a few reasons for this behavior. First, chimps are very protective of their own hands and faces, and they can get triggered if someone or something gets close to their face or hands. The second reason is that the face is the most vulnerable part of the body. The face has the eyes, mouth, and nose, which can all aid in attacking an enemy. Chimps know this, so they quickly attack those areas to incapacitate an enemy. Once they have eaten your face, they will go for the genitals, further adding to the misery and the totality of the attack.

Having your face eaten aside, chimps are not good pets at all. Yes, we love dressing them up in sailor suits, giving them briefcases, and marveling at how human they look. Hell, there was a whole TV show in 1970 that starred chimps Lancelot Link Secret Chimp. Hilarious and weird, with that female chimp dressed in lingerie, Mata Hari. The show also starred Bernie Kopell from Get Smart and later The Love Boat, as well as the Man a Thousand Voices, the late great Mel Blanc. Very weird.

Now, chimps can be incredibly cute, and their human-like ways make people think they would be fun to raise and have around the house. But chimps are not and never will be fully domesticated animals. They may be cute and cuddly when they are babies, but be warned, when a chimp hits between 5 and 8 years old, they discover their strength and trust me, a chimp is very strong.

On average, a chimp is 1.35 times stronger than a human. They are faster, more agile, and can be explosive in their anger. And they eat faces.

Furthermore, raising a chimp in a house is not suitable for people or the chimp. They need other chimps to learn social behavior and space to roam, swing, and hunt to stay engaged and happy. Once they sexually mature, they become very aggressive because, instinctually, they are taking their place in the chimp hierarchy. If there are no chimps to dominate and take their place, they will attack their human owners.

Also, chimps are stinky house guests. They throw feces and urinate all over the place. And it gets worse as they age. No amount of training or care will fully domesticate a chimp. They need to socialize with other chimps, and they carry abundant diseases. Also, it is against the law to own a chimp in some states. And owning a chimp just helps the illegal animal trade.

Finally, once the chimp gets older, they will be impossible to keep, and then what will you do? Your best recourse is a sanctuary; however, most chimp sanctuaries are overcrowded, so your chimp will most likely be euthanized.

If all this is not enough to convince your boyfriend that a chimp is a bad idea, I suggest buying a dozen piranha fish, putting them in a tank, and then shoving your boyfriend's head into the tank. They will eat his face. Once he has recovered, ask him if he wants to have his face eaten again; he will most likely say no, in which case you can then say no chimp. If he says yes, then you have bigger problems than pet choice.

I hope that helps.

If you have a question or a problem that you think Paul can help with, drop him a line at paulk@thoughtlab.com. He’ll try to answer. Which may or may not be a good thing.