Man's account of ordering a live monkey from comic book ad


Comic Book Resources has a fantastic first-hand account of ordering a live miniature monkey from a comic book advertisment. Jeff Tuthill ordered one for about $25 in the early 1970s. Not wanting his parents to know, he had it shipped to his friend's house:

It came in this little cardboard box. I mean, I’m saying small. It was probably the size of a shoebox, except it was higher. It had a little chicken wire screen window in it. There was a cut out. All you could see if you looked in there was his face. I brought it home, and I actually snuck it into the basement of the house.


No instructions [were included]. He had this waist belt on, a collar, if you will, on his waist, with an unattached leash inside the box. So I opened the box up inside the cage, the monkey jumped out, I withdrew the box and found the leash. I have no idea where it came from; I assumed it came from Florida. I figured, well, it’s probably near dehydration, so I opened up the cage to put some water in it. It leapt out of the cage when I opened it up the second time! I mean, it was eyeing the pipes that I was unaware of. As soon as I opened the cage, it leapt up and grabbed onto the plumbing up on the ceiling and started using them like monkey bars, and he was just shooting along in the basement, chirping pretty loud. It was heading towards the finished side of the basement, where there was a drop ceiling, and if it got into those channels, I never would have got it. It would have been days to get this thing out of there. I grabbed it by its tail, and it came down on, starting literally up by my shoulder, like a drill press it landed on my arm, and every bite was breaking flesh. It was literally like an unsewing machine. It was literally unsewing my arm coming down, and I was pouring blood. I grabbed it by its neck with both my wrists, threw it back in the cage. It’s screaming like a scalded cat. I’m pouring blood. My friend’s laughing uncontrollably, and my father finally comes in the basement door and goes, ‘Jeffery! What are you doing to that rabbit?’ And I go, ‘It’s not a rabbit, it’s a monkey, and it just bit the hell out of me.’ ‘A monkey? Bring it up here!’ I’m pouring, I wrapped a t-shirt around my arm to stave off the bleeding, carried the cage upstairs, and I don’t know why I bothered sneaking it in, because they fell in love with it, and it was like, there was no problem at all. They took me to the emergency room and I got 28 stitches on my arm.


Previously on Boing Boing:
Small gallery of old comic book ads


  1. That is so awesome. I was entirely expecting the story to have the tragic end with the father killing the poor primate for biting his son all over. This makes me much happier after that mouseybread thing.

  2. Will amuse children and adults for hours! Then just chuck in the trash… no one likes a used monkey.

    Lol, great story.

  3. Man, thats insane, I never ordered one because I figured it’d be a plastic puppet or some other ripoff. So…I ordered the plastic “Ventriloquist Dummy” instead….could have been “Charlie or the “Clown”. Figures I got the damned clown.

  4. Thi splace also sold Baby Pet Raccoons. The ads said “America’s Favorite Pet”

    Raccoons are America’s favorite pet? I would put about 50 animals ahead of raccoons. That is a bold statement.

  5. I was a little worried about the animal rights side of this story, but it seems these guys aren’t really endangered, and are mostly used for medical research anyway, so having them as pets is probably the “nicer” alternative.

    On the other hand, it “arrived in a box”. Like, in the mail?

  6. Way more interesting than sea monkeys!

    Great story. Its so good to read about these young men who accepted the responsibility of such a crazy pet. I bet they are good dads now if they have kids.

  7. “Hialeah Pets, Dept 16″

    And make damn sure you included the proper department.

    Dept 14 sold telepathic coyote pups. If they can’t form a packmind with other coyotes, your toddler brother will do.

    Dept 15 sold chameleon puma kittens. You can’t find them, but they’ll find you.

    Dept 17 sold baby kraken. Wait two weeks and there’s no way you can flush them.

    Dept 18 sold runch-bear cubs. If you were lucky, Hialeah pulled their fangs first.

  8. monkeys, hate ’em. Chimps are too much guilt to bear, gorillas make me sad, ourangs make me weep and think of overdue books. Baboons frighten the literal crap out of me, Rhesus make think of medical torture – even the sweet Capuchin I recently met was a film slave.

    Just leave them the hell alone, especially the Greens. They belong where they belong, not in our zoos, on our plates or in our labs or dancing for our amusement.

  9. Stefan – I know you’re kidding, but the department number was almost certainly used for tracking which ad the kid saw.

  10. “Just leave them the hell alone, especially the Greens. They belong where they belong, not in our zoos, on our plates or in our labs or dancing for our amusement.”

    I feel the same way about cats & dogs.

  11. I have 2 pet squirrel monkeys…not from a mail order but from a local breeder. They are wonderful companions for those who are dedicated as they are tons of work. I love the little guys, adn couldn’t imagine my life without them. They are definitely lots of fun to have around. Once you have gained their trust and have bonded with them it such a wonderful experiecne. I loved reading about other’s accounts on Mail order monkeys. I always see those ads on web sites and always wondered how it went with them.

  12. I went and read the whole article. So fun. I only saw those ads as a teen comic collector in the 80s (sounds like they stopped in ’75) but I used fantasize about being able to get a monkey so cheap and easy. Reading a firsthand account of someone that actually did it made my day.

    I do remember monkeys for sale in US pet shops in the 80s. I had presumed that was illegal now as well, but according to the article it’s still very legal in some places. Scary stuff.

  13. lol totally reminds me of an SNL commercial:

    Bathroom Monkey

    Woman…..Janene Garafalo

    [ open on Woman giving product testimony from her couch ]

    Woman: I had the bathroom from hell. [ laughs ] It was like everytime I cleaned it, ten minutes later it was dirty again! Then I heard about Bathroom Monkey. They said the Bathroom Monkey system would keep my entire bathroom clean for up to eight whole months. They were right.

    [ real-life monkey air freshener demonstrates ]

    The little monkey air freshener releases a clean and fresh scent, and it emits a piercing, ultra-high frequency shriek, scientifically designed to keep my Bathroom Monkey hard at work, 24 hours a day. Now my bathroom’s monkey clean and monkey fresh. And my bathroom monkey? He’s more than a bathroom cleanser. He’s a part of the family. [ Bathroom Monkey changes shower temperature level as Woman takes a shower ]

    I don’t know where monkeys come from.. I don’t know how they reproduce.. I don’t know how they eat. But I do know one thing: they were born to clean bathrooms. And when it’s cleaning power is all used up.. [ she discards used Bathroom Monkey ] ..simply pick up another in any of three decorative colors: Red.. [ monkey in red diaper ] ..Blue.. [ monkey in blue diaper ] ..or Orangutan. [ SUPER: “Orangutan will not wear diaper” ] This little guy just started today, and, you know, I think my new Bathoom Monkey and I are gonna make a great team.

  14. I remember reading these ads in the magazines I could get in the UK – I was always very jealous of Americans with their squirrel and sea monkeys. And you get to play with lasers… sigh.

  15. i can attest from personal experience getting bit by one of these things is no fun.

    In the 70’s I had a paper route customer who had one of these. I was doing my collections. They had it outside with them running around. Without provocation it jumped down from the telephone wire it wsa climbing on, grabbed my arm with arms, legs and tail, and proceeded to gnaw on my pinky. I can almost discern the scars still, 30+ years later.

    It was a less litigious time: my parents didn’t even think of suing them (that I know of).

  16. By the sound of it, the early 1970s were an entirely different world, as bizarre and exotic in its own way as a souk in Morocco or a village in the Amazon. Not only did children not have XBoxes or mobile phones and spend their time playing outside (!) but they could buy live monkeys and keep them as pets.

  17. Stories like this make me miss the Penn Jillette radio show. “Monkey Tuesday” was a regular feature, where callers would tell stories just like this one.

  18. Habitat destruction is the problem. Zoos are not the problem. Pet monkeys are not the problem.

    I spent the day at the San Antonio Zoo today and watched a family of white cheeked monkeys groom, nurse, strut, climb. They were heartbreakingly beautiful. I kept thinking, in nature they would probably be dead.

  19. My biker uncle obtained a squirrel monkey through similar means in the late ’60s because he thought it would be cool to have him ride on the handlebars. Turns out the monkey didn’t enjoy the open road, so he was soon abandoned with my aging grandparents.

    My grandfather immediately took to the creature, named him Sam, and set up a web of clothesline from Sam’s cage to points all around the kitchen. Sam had free run of the kitchen, but eventually caught on that he shouldn’t be in other rooms without human accompaniment.

    The monkey experience for me, however, wasn’t as pleasant. I was about 3 years old when I was sitting in their kitchen with a Warner-Bros.-sized lollipop. Sam decided it was worth a shot, so he Geronimo-ed from a clothesline directly toward my head. He quickly formed himself into a monkey skullcap with one hand free to grab the sucker. Traumatized as I was, I still refused to let go of the candy. I ran through the house screaming (as was Sam) as everybody else fell down laughing.

    In later years, my behavior at the kitchen table was quite good, as Mom would seat me directly beside Sam’s cage. I would remain quiet throughout the entire meal, eating quickly and constantly glancing over at those beady little yellow eyes.

    Sam died when I was about 10, and I can say I didn’t shed any tears at his passing. By that time, two white German shepherds had entered the household, and I had found true friends with them.

  20. This is completely off topic, but I just have to add:

    That is the first time I’ve ever seen the word “fob” used in the most accurate way and it’s not referring to immigrants.

    I’m a “fop” myself (plane, not boat).

  21. Sammich – it was mainly Mad magazine, but with the occasional superhero-style comic thrown in, albeit that I didn’t really go for these. I liked those small military-obsessed comics as well (Commando!, for example), though I’m not sure that many of those were American. Buster, Whizzer and Chips, The Beano – they were good in their way but they didn’t have the exoticism of their foreign counterparts and lacked the interesting small ads, the promises to make you muscled and the like.

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