Old Magazine Ad: Spider Monkeys Through The Mail

This must have been 25+ years ago but there used to be an ad
every month in the back of Boy’s Life magazine that advertised
live spider monkeys you could purchase through the mail.
The ad featured a picture of a little spider monkey sitting in a teaspoon.

Does anybody remember this? I can’t imagine how it was shipped or how traumatized this poor monkey must have been upon delivery. What happened to all these monkeys? They couldn’t possible have made good pets. If they survived the shipping process they’d eventually grow to about 15 lbs. I’d think they would be completely uncontrollable outside of a zoo or other facility trained in handling and housing monkeys. I can’t imagine
the people who bought one of these knew what they were getting into or had any idea how to care for these creatures. Kids probably sent away for these without their parents even knowing about it until it showed up at the front door.
What a horror show this must have been.

As someone mentioned in the other (abortive) version of this thread, are you sure it wasn’t an ad for Sea Monkeys?

Spider monkeys? Or sea monkeys? I doubt a real spider monkey is small enough to sit in a teaspoon, even at birth.

I do remember the sea monkey ads, though - they tended to depict the sea monkeys (which, IIRC, are actually brine shrimp) as looking very monkeylike.

No, I remember the ad… although I seem to recall it was Squirrel Monkeys (capuchin monkeys) … but I could be wrong. Been a while since I’ve read Boys’ Life.

Capuchin monkeys are the little ones you see in organ-grinder cartoons. One is seen as Captain Barbosa’s pet in the recent “Pirates Of The Caribbean.” They don’t get very big at all, and immature ones are teeny. They’re cute, but I understand they’re about impossible to housebreak.

I always wondered how they kept the monkey from dying in transit.

My father had a spider monkey as a pet when he was a child (I’m not sure if it came in the mail). It’s name was Coco, and he was ornery. I always bemoaned the fact that I was never able to meet Coco, but when he threw his feces at my grandmother during a luncheon, he was given away.

Kids, don’t throw your feces.

I remember the ads. They had a picture of a monkey sitting in a teacup, as I recall. Mom wouldn’t let me order one, which was a good thing.

Could you perhaps be remembering this ad?

Sounds like a bit of a scam, personally…


A little googleing comes up with this. The part I like is “your family will love it” , so really, there is no need to ask your parents or anything. Who wants to bet that the free cage consists of the box your new friend and suprise comes in?

I have seen ads for baby monkeys that fit in a tea cup, but never a teaspoon. The page where I got the link also includes an ad for a baby racoon. Sea monkeys are for wimps.

Kind of related:

I remeber an old Leave It to Beaver episode where they ordered a baby alligator through the mail. Did they have these ads too?

I remember those ads, too. But, as with the ads for “Sell GRIT!” or the REAL SUBMARINE, I was never dumb enough to send for them.

The one that still intrigues me is the one that seems to show a dinosaur with a chopped-off tail, the headline reading GROG GROWS OWN TAIL.

Does anyone know what that was all about?

I had a racoon as a kid (her name was Thelma). My dad found an entire nest of kits when a tree got hit by lighting and had to be taken down. She wasn’t very big at all when he brought her home (my mother wasn’t pleased).

Thelma was very partial to baloney or hot dogs, and would, indeed, take her food over to the water bowl and splash it around. I remember that her feet were incredibly soft. She grew pretty rapidly and started to get a bit snipping so we eventually let her go. She would return from time to time and climb up the gutters of the house. We’d set some food out for her, she’d eat, then vanish.

Yep, although it was probably very soon after that show aired that the sale of alligators for the pet trade was banned, as the species was endangered at that time. (At least I think the gators in question were genuine American alligators and not caimans.)

They were real ads for Squirrel Monkeys, not Spider Monkeys. Go to any comic book store that sells comics from the 50’s and 60’s. Look at a few of these comics, and you will see these ads.

Wow, thanks for all the response!
I’ve been wondering about this for years.

As to your questions it was definitely an ad for a real monkey, not for sea monkeys (not exactly sure if it was a spider monkey). The two ads that were posted look pretty close to what I remember. I thought he was sitting in a spoon.

No matter what type of monkey it was how on earth did they ship these things? Did it come in a box with holes punched in it? Did anybody actual purchase one? The thing must have been going completely out of its mind. I can’t imagine that this ended up (as the one ad claims) as “Loads of fun and amusement”.

Loads of misery and cruelty…

exvex: Well, as I said, the ad I linked to looks like a scam to me. According to the text, it seems like the only way to get the monkey is to first get twenty enrollment forms and then get twenty people to all sign up for something, and then there’s a whole bunch of stuff about sending in various types of pictures while “waiting” for your monkey to arrive.

I’m guessing if anybody really did manage to get twenty suckers to enroll in the program (whatever it is) the monkey would mysteriously get “lost in the mail”. No on-line tracking back then…


I concur. I clearly remember comic-book ads from my youth in the 1950s featuring a squirrel (not spider) monkey that was sitting in a teacup (not teaspoon). My aunt used to talk about wanting to buy one, but we never did (wisely).


When my older brother was a small child he once begged my mother to buy him a little windup toy dog which was being hawked by a street vendor on a corner in downtown St. Louis. My mother asked him if he wanted it because it made such a cute little noise. He did. My mother, who was wise to the ways of the world, pointed out that the vendor actually had a small device secreted in his mouth with which he was making the noise.

How many children and parents did that guy disappoint? My brother never forgot that experience. He said he thought of it as his introduction to a harsh reality of life: namely, that there are a lot of assholes out there, and a lot of petty evil in the world.

As a kid I was pretty well addicted to comics, but, being the cynical product of a cynical age, I was always very suspicious of the ads. I remember wondering if there was a class of people in the world who just naturally got satisfaction from ripping off kids; it would seem there were cleaner ways of making a dirty living than selling x-ray specs. I wonder still.

I had a classmate in the fourth grade (this would have been 1965-66) who had no sales resistance at all. He sent away for a miniature camera. It looked cute but, IIRC, it came with only one roll of film he could never find film to fit it.

I remember trying to dissuade him from sending away for an “adorable pet monkey” one day as we were reading over comics as we waited for haircuts at the neighborhood barbershop. He seemed both heart broken and outraged when I suggested that the monkey would very probably bite. Like a lot of kids my age back then, his ideas of nature seemed to come largely from Walt Disney. And yeah, even at age ten, I think, it struck me as inhumane and grotesque to be shipping monkeys through the mail to unqualified, unprepared owners this way. The ad I remembered resembled the second one shown above, where the monkey (with free toy) sat in a hand. I expect his parents vetoed his idea.

It wasn’t until high school that I actually met someone who had an aquarium full of sea monkeys. I was amazed to learn that they were brine shrimp, and to see what those tiny, tiny buggers actually look like.

The only comic book ad I could ever vouch for was for a set of plastic space men and rockets which used to run in D.C. Comics. My older brother sent away for those sometime around 1960. He got a set of ordinary-looking, ordinary size plastic toys in various colors. That was all he had expected, and they were, as I recall, reasonably priced.

And I still remember the day I actually saw a copy of Grit. Remember Grit? One could supposedly win all sorts of prizes from selling it door-to-door. When attending graduate school in a college town in Texas in the late 70s I finally saw a copy at a newstand. It looked like a supermarket tabloid, but read sort of like one of the older, conservative women’s magazines such as Woman’s Day.

The ads were real. I’m pretty sure you could get both squirrel monkeys and spider monkeys. I remember reading warnings against buying them from consumer groups - not because it was a scam, but because often the little guys arrived dead, and even if they did arrive alive, monkeys do not make good pets. The things would rampage around, screech their fool heads off, and wind up at animal shelters. Or, they’d wind up in tiny cages much too small (monkeys are active and need large cages), and just go nuts.

<Sam Stone> not because it was a scam, but because often the little guys arrived dead

I’m not surprised. If I remember correctly it took about 12 weeks to get anything you ordered from an ad in the back of a comic book in those days. How long can a monkey survive in a box?

Grib’s lollipop-eating monkey ad seems to be the way to go.
It says “Live delivery guaranteed”.

Just send back the unused carcass for a full refund.