August 11th, 2016

Monkeys on a plane (and in life, music, and movies)

[Hat tip: Instapundit.]

Apparently there was some disturbance on a Frontier Airlines flight last Tuesday involving a monkey. But not to worry; it was a monkey with a job:

The monkey that reportedly got “loose” on a Las Vegas-bound Frontier Airlines flight from Ohio late Tuesday was a certified service animal, airline officials said.

Melissa Nunnery, a spokeswoman for McCarran International Airport, initially said a Frontier staff member reported to McCarran “that the monkey was loose, or got loose” briefly during the flight, but couldn’t clarify what “loose” meant.

Early Wednesday, the airline clarified that the monkey was in the main cabin, but never broke free during the flight.

“The monkey was never loose in the cabin,” Frontier spokesman Richard Oliver said Wednesday. “It was always with the passenger it was traveling with.”

Now, lest you think this is absurd on the face of it, understand that monkeys can indeed be bona fide service animals for people who have lost some or all of the use of their hands. Monkeys (particularly capuchins) have a lot of manual dexterity and of course are very smart and nimble. For example, since 1979:

[Monkey Helpers has been] a non-profit organization that helps adults with spinal cord injuries and other mobility impairments live more independent and engaged lives. We do this by providing them, free of charge, with a unique service animal: a highly trained capuchin monkey to help with their daily tasks. The only organization of our kind, we raise and train these special service animals, carefully match them with appropriate recipients across the nation, and provide active support and care for the duration of each placement.

I had heard of this service many years ago, but I’d never watched any of the YouTube videos, which are moving in human terms and fascinating in terms of animal behavior. There are many many videos on YouTube about this, but here are a few typical ones:

It seems like a very worthwhile charity.

But let’s get back to that plane. The article failed to clarify whether the monkey on the plane was an animal owned by a person with a hand mobility problem, which would have made the entire episode understandable. But that doesn’t appear to be the case; this monkey was described as an “emotional support animal”:

It’s unclear what type of monkey it was, but Nunnery said the monkey was an emotional support animal, adding that “the passenger had all the proper paperwork to have the monkey on the plane with him.”

I’m all for emotional support. But how about the tried-and-true stuffed animal for that? Because to a certain extent I think this “emotional support animal” bit can sometimes be a scam by a person who just likes to take his/her animal everywhere and manages to get a doctor to sign off on it.

Which reminds me (I couldn’t find a video of the original version):

And now that I’ve paid my sincere respects to the actual monkeys that help the actual disabled, I cannot resist posting this classic comedy bit from “The Pink Panther.” And no, a chimpanzee is neither a monkey nor a minkee. But boy, Peter Sellers was a genius, wasn’t he?:

13 Responses to “Monkeys on a plane (and in life, music, and movies)”

  1. Yancey Ward Says:

    Yes, Sellers was a brilliant actor. Died way too young.

  2. Lizzy Says:

    Neo, I guess you’ve never seen “Monkey Shines”?

    I would bet that some of those “emotional support animals” are a scam. I know someone who trains service dogs, and being familiar with the vests they wear, I have seen dogs wearing what looked to be fake ones while accompanying their owners at places like Walmart.

  3. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I had no idea that monkeys could act as service animals. To train one, the act of an angel.
    “Emotional support” almost certainly disingenuous.

    Peter Sellers was indeed a comedic genius. His “Ruem?” skit with the hotel clerk in “The Pink Panther Strikes Again” a sublime comedic moment. I chuckle just thinking about it.

  4. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    There’s definitely an Internet service-animal scam. You can basically order a service animal certificate online for the asking, based on almost any claim of emotional need. See here: And yes, there’s harm in it — who wants to sit next to a monkey on an already crammed and smelly plane? Not I!

    Whether the monkey on the plane was serving a real need or not, what made me smile, Neo, was your accidental misspelling of “monkeys” as “monkees.” The Monkees were a bit of a scam too in their way, an engineered “band” put together by TV producers to make a show. But they were fun. And now they’re stuck in my head. Hey hey we’re the Monkees! People say we monkey around, but we’re too busy singing to put anybody down!

  5. vanderleun Says:

    “Service” animal = “Medical” marijuana.

  6. Lizzy Says:

    Real service animals are highly trained and very expensive. A local girl (with some disability) was on the news recently because she had set up a fundraiser to obtain the $15,000 needed to purchase a service dog. It’s a shame that it’s being abused, but it’s on par with the general prevalence of petty law-breaking nowadays.

  7. neo-neocon Says:


    I really have no idea what you’re talking about. Did you watch the videos?

    Did you mean to say “service animal”? Or did you actually mean to say “emotional support animal” instead?

    Because “service animals” are completely bona fide longstanding helpers for the disabled, the first and foremost being seeing eye dogs. These capuchin monkeys are in that vein.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    Here you are—a ruem:

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    Mrs Whatsit:

    Ooops, will fix!

  10. The Other Gary Says:

    Inspector Clouseau: Does your dog bite?

  11. Cornflour Says:

    My name is Gregor Samsa. These roaches in my pockets provide emotional support. Can I get an extra lunch?

  12. CV Says:

    Insert flying monkey joke here!

    This New Yorker article, “Pets Allowed,” delves into the emotional support animal scam. The author bought the “certification” online and proceeded to take all manner of furry creatures to accompany her on normal life errands and activities. It’s hilarious:

  13. Steve57 Says:

    I can’t stand monkeys. I was on Sentosa Island just off Singapore. And a monkey started to, um, pleasure himself. And I a laughed.

    They ganged up on me. The evil critters.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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