Since 1979, Helping Hands and their monkey helpers have given adults with spinal cord injuries or other mobility impairments the priceless gift of independence, companionship and hope. They do this by providing individuals with a unique service animal: a highly trained capuchin monkey.
Helping Hands, a truly original non-profit organization, is dedicated to raising and training each service animal and then carefully matching them with appropriate recipients across the nation. After placement in a home, they continue their dedication by providing active support and care for the duration of each assignment.
Most people do not think of capuchin monkeys when they think of a service animal. However, their dexterous hands and amazing fine motor skills enable them to perform tasks (video) such as:
- Turning pages
- Scratching itches
- Retrieving dropped objects
- Inserting straws into bottles
- Turning on buttons/switches for remotes, phones, computers, etc.
- Repositioning limbs on a wheelchair
But it is more than fine motor skills that make these animals such great service companions. Monkeys have a strong sense of hierarchy, which provides the motivation to care for and be cared for by their human partner. Helping Hands trainers and placement staff utilize this natural hierarchy to create a mutually beneficial and nurturing relationship between the monkey and the recipient.