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Chamber features unique society

In the diverse world of today not everyone shares the same passions, work schedule, or even business mission. The Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce “Business and Community Luncheon” focused on a different type of business during Thursday’s event … a sort of ‘monkey’ business.

The featured speaker was Nancy Barton, a member of The Simian Society of America, Inc. Barton brought along Sidney, a 17-year-old Black Capped Capuchin.

According to the website,, the society is a s a 501(c)3 organization founded in 1957 to “improve the welfare of primates in captivity. Composed primarily of private caretakers, membership also includes veterinarians, primatologists and zoological officials.”

Chamber Director of Operations Laura Raymer introduced Barton, saying her love of animals began as a girl growing up on her parent’s farm.

Barton has been a member of the Farmington Regional Chamber since 2015, so Raymer thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce chamber investors in attendance to the organization and the work of Barton.

She said the society runs completely on donations and fundraising activities. The society was started by a private owner of primates to help those who own a primate to learn more about their care.

“We also help out in relocating primates that come from abuse situations or helping people who can no longer care for their primates,” she said.

Barton said Sidney has been in her care since April – when the previous owner – a friend of Barton’s – was unable to care for Sidney due to declining health.

“I’m local to her, so she still comes and visits Sidney,” she said.

The society takes care in placing primates in homes where the individuals have experience with certain breeds. All are spayed or neutered before being placed in homes.

“We try not to put them in a sanctuary because most of the monkeys that need help placing…they’re too imprinted on humans,” she said. “They would not do well with wild monkeys in the sanctuaries.”

The lifespan of these animals can go up to 30 years in captivity – double of the lifespan for those in the wild.

Sidney spent most of the time across the back of Barton’s shoulders as she spoke.

“I have other monkeys at home that have indoor/outdoor enclosures…Sidney said that’s not her thing. She lives in the house with me 24/7,” Barton said. Other monkeys in the home include Ella, Sadie, Ringo and Cooper.

Barton said anyone interested in owning a monkey should contact the Simian Society and read up on the organization as much as possible. The closest local chapter is in Festus.

The enclosure at Barton’s home is 30 feet wide and 20 feet long – with plenty of climbing areas for the primates.

“The monkeys need that,” she said, noting she goes above what is required for ownership.

Legal requirements vary throughout the state for ownership, Barton said.

Some states ban ownership altogether – one of the jobs of the society to help owners in those states find new homes for the primates.

In St. Louis, owning a primate is outlawed. Barton is required to take a special permit from the health department and animal with her when visiting the veterinary in the city.

Overall in Missouri, she said, the primate has to be registered with the local sheriff’s department.

Barton said she is concerned with how the animals will react during the eclipse on Monday. She said she plans to keep them locked in the house.

Barton still lives on a farm with other animals. But, there is no denying when it comes to her favorite.

“I would take a monkey over a dog,” she said. “The thing I was most amazed is that they are so much like humans. They bond with you like a baby.”

Sidney, the 17-year-old Black Capped Capuchin,

Sidney, the 17-year-old Black Capped Capuchin, “models” the Simian Society of America T-shirt during the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce “Business and Community Luncheon” on Thursday. Nancy Barton spoke about the work of the not-for-profit organization in helping primates.

Sidney rests on the shoulders of Nancy Barton during the presentation about the Simian Society of America, Inc. during the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce

Sidney rests on the shoulders of Nancy Barton during the presentation about the Simian Society of America, Inc. during the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce “Business and Community Luncheon” on Thursday at the Centene Center. 

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or

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