Monkey mistreated by Basingstoke man

Basingstoke Gazette: Milo enjoying his new life at Monkey World. Picture courtesy of Monkey World Milo enjoying his new life at Monkey World. Picture courtesy of Monkey World

HE WAS taken to a pub on a lead, was kept in a birdcage, and only weighed as much as an orange when he was rescued from the home of his Basingstoke owner.

Thankfully, today, three-year-old marmoset Milo is a picture of good health after being nursed back to health by staff at the renowned Monkey World sanctuary.

While Milo enjoys a new lease of life, Richard Walton – the man who caused him unnecessary suffering – faces being sentenced by Basingstoke magistrates.

Walton pleaded guilty to causing Milo unnecessary suffering by keeping him in an unsuitable environment and failing to feed him the correct diet.

The 32-year-old was the subject of a two-year ban from owning animals when he was found to have the marmoset in an upstairs bedroom at his home in Whitgift Close, Beggarwood.

Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court imposed the banning order after Walton caused unnecessary suffering to his English bull terrier-type dog, Maisy.

It was an article on his punishment, published in the courts section of The Gazette in May, which played a part in Milo being rescued.

Patrons at The Portsmouth Arms, in Hatchwarren Lane, realised that Walton was banned from keeping animals and reported him to the RSPCA after he took Milo to the pub on a lead.

RSPCA staff visited his home on June 4, joined by Dr Alison Cronin, director of the Monkey World sanctuary, in Dorset, and Basingstoke police officers.

Dr Cronin told The Gazette: “At his house, I could hear the marmoset calling. It was in an upstairs room and I could smell it.

“He was kept in a birdcage in the corner in the dark. He was seriously small and approximately one third under weight.”

Milo weighed the equivalent of an orange when he was found, around 280g, but should have weighed between 400g and 450g.

Dr Cronin, wife of the late Jim Cronin, who founded Monkey World, said Milo had not been fed the right diet and was malnourished with teeth missing.

She added: “He didn’t stand a chance. Luckily, we got him when he was young so he’s got a good long future ahead of him.”

Dr Cronin said that marmosets live in a “tight family unit” in their natural environment of the Brazilian rainforest, and mate for life.

She added: “To keep one in a birdcage in solitary confinement, poor Milo was subjected to physical and mental cruelty, in my opinion.”

She said Walton admitted taking Milo to the pub on a lead, and added: “Monkeys and apes can share all the same colds, flus and viruses as us so taking him out to a public area where he could catch any number of colds and flus, let alone that he’s a deep forest dwelling animal and quite shy.

“They are fast moving animals that hide in thick rainforest. They wouldn’t be happy or comfortable in a loud, noisy pub with lots of people. It would be threatening and intimidating.”

Milo was rescued and taken to Monkey World, where he was given vitamins and brought back to full health. He is now sharing his home with another rescued marmoset called Clydie.

Dr Cronin said that during the last 18 months, Monkey World has rescued 25 monkeys from the British pet trade. Marmosets can be sold for around £1,000.

She added: “It’s very shocking to say in this day and age in Britain, but Monkey World’s most long-term, significant problem that we face is legal trade of primates as pets in this country. Something has to be done to stop or change this.

“Marmosets and other groups of monkeys can be brought in and sold in this country without any form of licence and checks as to whether the owner is capable or has the correct facilities to look after them.”

Walton entered guilty pleas to three charges on November 21 but, when he appeared in court last Thursday, his sentencing was adjourned until Thursday, January 16, pending a psychiatric report.

He was given conditional bail until his next court appearance.

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