Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Shocking sight of chimpanzee victim highlights danger of primate pets

Posted: 17 November 2009. Updated: 18 November 2009

Animal Defenders International (ADI) was distressed by the recent coverage showing the victim of a chimpanzee attack and expresses its sympathy towards Charla Nash who was severely disfigured by the ordeal nine months ago.

The incident involving a large male chimpanzee, which had been used in television commercials and then kept as a pet in Connecticut, acts as a stark reminder, however, that keeping pet chimpanzees and other primates is very dangerous. Even smaller monkeys, have been known to inflict considerable injuries especially to children and do not belong in people’s homes.

ADI campaigns around the globe for greater protection of primates. Evidence shows that primates are intelligent, social and complex animals which are known to suffer both mentally and physically when they are kept in inappropriate conditions. Many species of primates commonly kept as pets can live between 25 to 45 years; which is a huge commitment from an owner. Adult animals in particular can be difficult to keep (especially since the isolation from their own kind causes psychological and emotional damage) so they are often confined or isolated even further, causing additional suffering.

In the UK, the keeping of primates as pets is still legal, despite concerns raised during the passage of the Animal Welfare Act through Parliament. DEFRA has produced a draft code of practice on the welfare of privately kept non-human primates; however, it does not ban their keeping and it is just a guide for care of these animals. The code is open to public consultation until 30 November 2009. Conversely, in the US, the Captive Primate Safety Act introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Mark Kirk along with 17 other co-sponsors, was approved by the US House of Representatives in February 2009 by an overwhelming majority and it is awaiting discussion in the US Senate.

Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive, said: “This acts as a stark reminder of the consequences of keeping wild animals like primates as pets. Chimpanzees have complex social needs and are simply not suitable for human companionship. Such animals need highly specialized care and should not be allowed to be kept in people’s homes where they can easily turn dangerous. It is disappointing that UK has not banned primate pets under the Animal Welfare Act as it means people continue to keep animals which belong in the wild in unsuitable conditions in their homes. ”

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