Here’s a disturbing trend that sends out a red flag immediately. A woman in Florida is raising a monkey as her child. Is this their cunning plan to take over the world? From the Orlando Sentinel:

Lori Johnson was lonely and depressed after her youngest son left home in 1992. She yearned for another child to love. So Johnson bought a baby monkey.

“She was a little, bitty, teeny thing staring up at me,” said Johnson, 58, who lives in Deltona with her husband and Jessica Marie, a 5-pound capuchin she calls her daughter. “She was enough to steal anyone’s heart, she was.”

Like Johnson, there is a growing group of monkey lovers who pay big bucks to diaper and dote on their primates. Some even raise them as surrogate children.

Many self-described “monkey people” don’t dare call them pets. They are playfully referred to as “monkids” and reared in a world of pierced ears, monogrammed clothes, a seat at the dinner table and their own bedrooms.

At Gemini Springs in DeBary recently, Johnson pushed “Jessy” around in a toy-filled red stroller, a sight that drew attention. “Hey, it’s a real monkey,” hollered one youngster, who did a double take.

Johnson replied with a grin: “That’s not a monkey; that’s my kid.”

Although illegal as pets in 20 states, the majority of the estimated 15,000 privately owned primates live in homes, said an official with The Humane Society of the United States. The rest belong to small tourist attractions. In Florida, it’s tough to tell exactly how many people have monkeys because the state doesn’t keep records on licensed pets in a computerized database in Tallahassee.

More than 200 people statewide have permits to keep the smaller types that include capuchins, spider monkeys and marmosets — the most common monkey pets. The actual number of primates easily could be twice as high, however, considering that many residents have more than one of them and some keep them illegally.

How ugly were their own children that they would take in a monkey as a replacement? And how do the adult children of these people feel now that they’ve been replaced by a monkey?

Camille Dorian, owner and editor of the San Diego-based Monkey Matters Magazine, credits the Internet for the growth. Online advertising is cheap, she said, and the Web is brimming with sites offering advice and monkey accessories. She bought her last monkey in an eBay-type auction.

She said the young and the old get excited about monkeys because of their humanlike features, intelligence and range of emotions. Owners network through online forums and share photos of their primates dolled up in frilly dresses, Superman capes and sports jerseys.

This is plain embarrassing to not only the humans…but the monkeys. This is why they will overthrow us. Revenge!

“It has to be someone who fusses over animals and babies — they understand and they want a piece of it, too,” said Dorian, who has a play area for her seven monkeys. “Believe me when I tell you that if people could get their cats in outfits, a lot of those cats would be wearing outfits.”

Many owners say they adore their hairy companions and give them the best of care. Animal-rights groups, however, are fighting hard to ban primate pets. Congress is discussing a bill that would prohibit interstate travel for monkeys, a move that would hamper sales.

Beth Preiss, director of The Humane Society’s exotic-pets campaign, said animal sanctuaries are full of monkeys whose owners coddled them as infants and then abandoned them when they became tough to control.

Primates bite and scratch — one way they communicate in the wild. They may lash out when frustrated by an owner’s constant discipline, Preiss said. Some become violent after reaching sexual maturity.

“They can’t be raised as humans,” she said. “What monkeys really need is to be with other monkeys swinging in tree tops.”

The number of monkeys housed at the Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary in Gainesville has risen from 34 in 2002 to 100 by the end of 2007. Seventeen more are on a waiting list, said founder Kari Bagnall.

Two capuchins there are former “babies” of couples who wanted kids but couldn’t adopt.

Little Buddie went everywhere with one couple, including trips to sit on a mall Santa’s lap. When Buddie started biting, though, neither owner felt safe, Bagnall said. A biting attack by the second monkey, Vinny Jr., sent his owner to the hospital.

Some owners go to great lengths to force their critters to behave, Bagnall and animal-rights activists said. Some pull out the animals’ teeth. One monkey arrived at Jungle Friends with a clipped tail — because it got in the way of diapering. Others come in with health problems stemming from too much junk food and not enough sun.

Chris DeMango, who has been raising monkeys nearly 20 years near Fort Lauderdale and sells them, said that’s why he screens potential buyers and keeps in contact after a sale. Part of the problem, he said, is that too many breeders abandon owners who need help caring for such a high-maintenance animal. Monkey rearing is a long-term commitment — 30 to 50 years or more.

Julie Staup, 52, vehemently defended most owners as responsible caretakers. She makes and sells monkey fashions online, including holiday formalwear and diaper covers that say “Mom’s Heart.”

“When you have someone who spends $500 for monkey tops and bottoms, and this is your spring wardrobe, you know she [the pet] is being taken care of,” said Staup, who lives in west Orange. “Who is going to spend that on an animal that’s not going to be taken care of?”

Oh..I dunno…how about stupid rich kids?