Monkeying Around: One of Chilton’s favorite residents
Published 4:51 pm Friday, January 21, 2022
By ELISABETH ALTAMIRANO-SMITH/ Community Columnist
There is nothing quite as precious as holding a newborn baby, unless it is a newborn monkey. Sherry Young-O’Toole of Jemison and her one-year old pet monkey, “Louie” have that effect on people when they see them in public.
“Louie (named after King Louie in ‘The Jungle Book’) is just like having a baby,” said Young-O’Toole. “We feed him a bottle. He wears micro-preemie diapers. He is afraid of loud noises and the dark. He has a stroller and a pack-n-play. My grandson James is 19 months, and we dress them in matching outfits. Louie has a high chair too, and, we put their high chairs side-by-side. They just loved it and ate together.”
Louie, a capuchin monkey, (also known as “organ grinders”) are historically known for their intelligence and their ability to be easily trained.
“They are often used by paraplegics,” said Young-O’Toole. “After proper training in Boston, you can ask them to retrieve things. For example, they can go to the kitchen, get milk and bring it back to the person.”
Young-O’Toole and her husband Michael own and operate Homeland Assisted Living in Jemison. Although Louie does not retrieve items for residents, he does have a relationship with them.
“He loves to be held, and they enjoy holding him like a baby,” said Young-Toole.
Another favorite pastimes of Louie’s is going to the park to swing, channel-surfing while sitting in the Lazy-Boy, learning American Sign-Language and cruising around town in the car.
“He loves to get in the car and go,” said Young-O’Toole. “He goes with me to Olde Town Scoops for sugar-free ice-cream, and he loves Bones barbecue place at the interstate. They sell strawberries in front of the restaurant, and he goes crazy over them!”
For anyone interested in getting a capuchin, it is a lifelong commitment. The average lifespan of capuchin monkeys in captivity is 50 years of age.
“It is like having a toddler forever,” said Young-O’Toole. “After so many years, you can’t just put them in a cage. We love having him, but people need to know it is forever. We have seven children, and I tell them all of the time that if I had Louie first, he would have been our only child.”