The Justin Bieber Monkey Controversy You Might Not Remember

Justin Bieber is no stranger to controversy. Not even the Grammy winner's love for animals manages to avoid the headlines. Generally, when celebs introduce a new cat on social media, they are met with mushy messages about the animal's cuteness. Justin and his wife Hailey Bieber, on the other hand, drew criticism in 2019 when he showed off his two kittens on Instagram. That's because Sushi and Tuna weren't your run-of-the-mill tomcats but Savannah cats, an exotic breed derived from the African Serval and a domestic cat, The Hollywood Reporter noted.

While the Instagram page he created for the animals has attracted nearly 330,000 followers, not everyone was so quick to gush over the kitties. PETA's Lisa Lange told Page Six, "Justin Bieber could inspire his fans around the world to save a life by adopting a cat from a local animal shelter — rather than fueling the dangerous demand for hybrid cats." They continued to make headlines when Sushi escaped in February 2020, only to be found a month later by chef Sandra Lee, TMZ reported.

After reportedly paying $35,000 for the hybrid cats, the Biebers sent them to live with Hailey's cousin when their new place blocked them from having them there. "The cats are amazing, but they are psycho," she told Elle. While the feline controversy may still be fresh in our memories, it wasn't the only one Justin saw himself embroiled in. In his late teens, Justin also drew criticism over his ownership of another exotic animal.

Justin Bieber's capuchin monkey had to be confiscated

In early 2013, Justin Bieber got a capuchin monkey as a 19th birthday present from producer Jamal "Mally Mall" Rashid, according to BuzzFeed News. The pop star named the primate OG Mally. While owning monkeys is a controversial topic as is, Bieber's ownership of Mally went above and beyond rather quickly. In late March of that year, German authorities confiscated his pet when Bieber attempted to enter the country without proper documentation, CNN reported. 

Bieber got heat for all kinds of reasons. Firstly, he performed in Munich and then headed to Austria later the day, leaving Mally behind. He was given until May 7 to produce the necessary paperwork to retrieve the monkey but never did. Bieber made the situation worse when he posted two pictures of Mally to Instagram, leading some to believe he had returned for him. "Kickin it with og," Bieber captioned one photo. The second shot featured Mally snuggled up against a teddy bear. "He's like a human," Bieber wrote.

After spending time in quarantine, Mally was transferred to a shelter, whose manager, Karl Heinz Joachim, criticized Bieber for acquiring a weeks-old infant when capuchin monkeys don't fully wean until after their first birthday, he told The Guardian. He also pointed out monkeys are social animals. "The best thing would be not to buy one at all, but if you do, buy five," he argued.

OG Mally found a permanent home in Germany

Justin Bieber denied he failed to produce documents for OG Mally. "In Germany, that monkey's endangered or something ... but I had the papers," he told GQ in 2016. "I even had it written out that he was a circus monkey and he could travel and all that s***." Bieber regrets bringing the monkey on his 2013 European tour, but he has no regrets about having owned Mally. In fact, at the time of the interview three years after the debacle, he was open to getting another one. "Just gotta make sure I got a house and it stays in the f***ing house," he said. "I'm not gonna bring him to Germany or travel with it anymore."

As far as we know, he didn't. He hasn't attempted to visit Mally, either, though he told GQ he was open to it. When Bieber failed to return for Mally with the required documentation, Germany officials sent it to the Serengeti Park near Hanover, according to CNN. The government also charged Bieber close to 8,000 euros in care-related costs, which he paid the following year, USA Today reported.

Five years after being transferred to his permanent home, Mally still displayed the damage of having been separated from his mother so early. "He still has issues speaking the capuchin language," a spokesperson for the zoo told in 2018. "He still tries to imitate human speech. He sometimes makes weird scratchy sounds which are not typical for capuchins."