NBC’s upcoming television series Animal Practice features a number of wild animals, including a capuchin monkey named Crystal as a main character on the show. Monkeys like Crystal who are used for entertainment are taken away from their mothers shortly after birth—a practice that is deeply cruel to both the baby and the mother and that denies the infants the maternal care and nurturing that they need.
The “smile” that Crystal exhibits on the show is actually an expression that indicates fear and stress in capuchin monkeys. Capuchin expert Dr. Eduardo Ottoni states, “In the case of monkeys like Crystal, who lead complex social lives in nature, raising them in captivity means to condemn them to a life of utter loneliness. And since we do not usually understand their communicative behaviors properly, fear, submission, or avoidance displays can easily be mistaken for ‘smiles.'”
Primate sanctuaries tell us that they…
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