Joe Valenti was searching YouTube while brainstorming baseball team promotions. He stumbled upon Tim Lepard and his cowboy monkey rodeo act.
The act billed as “Tim ‘Wild Thang’ Lepard and Team Ghostriders” has become one of minor league baseball’s best-sellers. Fans fill ballparks to watch Lepard’s cowboy-clad ring-tailed monkeys riding on the backs of border collies while chasing big-horned sheep.
The cowboy monkey rodeo is now on over 30 teams’ promotional schedules.
“What I tell people is that if you can watch the cowboy monkey rodeo and not smile, you have no soul,” said Harrisburg Senators (Eastern) general manager Randy Whitaker, whose team has booked Lepard each of the past four seasons.
Lepard says he trains his monkeys with an abundance of love—and Pop-Tarts. The inspiration for his act came nearly 30 years ago, when his pet monkey hopped on the back of his dog and went tearing around the house. He would give a treat to the monkey every time it tried to get down.
“He was just content to sit up there and eat a Pop-Tart,” Lepard said. “It was all done with care and love.”
There are also two NBA and NFL teams and a NASCAR race that will feature the dog-riding monkey.