Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

UK prohibition of the keeping of primates as pets is long overdue says ADI

Posted: 17 January 2012. Updated: 19 January 2012

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has contacted all MPs requesting that they attend a Ten Minute Rule Motion to bring in a prohibition of the keeping of Primates as Pets in the UK.

ADI is fully supportive of the motion of Sheryll Murray, Conservative MP for South East Cornwall, calling for a ban on keeping primates as pets after she saw the condition of rescued animals when visiting a monkey sanctuary in her constituency.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI, said: “ADI is grateful to Ms Murray for giving this issue parliamentary time, and the publicity that it so rightfully deserves. Primates are totally unsuitable to be kept as pets – they are wild animals with complex social needs and are simply not suitable for human companionship.
“Such animals need highly specialized care, and most prospective owners are unaware that the pet they are purchasing could live for up to 45 years. During this time, their owners could leave school, start a career, get married and have children. Very few people can offer that kind of commitment.

“In recent years we have seen cases where primates have seriously harmed their owners, as a result of being kept in captivity. Such incidents highlight the urgent need to re-evaluate the way that we treat our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. The UK should ban primate pets under the Animal Welfare Act, to prevent situations like this arising in future."

Currently, keeping primates as pets is legal in the UK and the Government brought in a code of practice for primate keepers in 2010. ADI believes that the current system is not working and an outright ban is the only way to give primates greater protection.

Animal Defenders International is recommending that the UK government takes immediate action to end the import and sale of primates for the pet trade, in light of the inevitable suffering involved in the capture, transport and social isolation of these animals, the damage caused to wild populations by the trade and the risk to human health from unknown monkey viruses.

In addition, they are recommending national licensing of all species of privately-owned primates which would set standards of welfare and environmental enrichment and make provision for removal of animals being kept in unsuitable conditions.

They would also like to see a working group established with involvement from government, primate sanctuaries and other groups, to set up an equitable and workable system for dealing with the offspring of privately-owned primates.

Tim Phillips, ADI’s Campaigns Director said: “The UK should take a leading role in Europe to encourage other governments to do the same and ban the keeping of primates as pets.

“Sanctuaries across Europe have reported that they receive many animals taken from their natural habitat, and it is difficult to trace sources. Primates are easily moved across borders, and smuggled primates could end up the in UK easily.

“No accurate data exists regarding how many primates are kept as pets in the UK, and estimates are between 2,500 and 7,500. These wild animals require specialist care and they need our protection now.”


Notes to Editors:
Ten Minute Rule Motion, Wednesday 18 January following PMs Questions in the Main Camber at 12.30pm: Sheryll Murray: Keeping of Primates as Pets (Prohibition) - That leave be given to bring in a Bill to prohibit the keeping of primates as pets in the United Kingdom and the breeding, sale and purchase of primates; to introduce breed-specific codes of practice for the keeping of primates in animal sanctuaries and for species conservation; and for connected purposes.

Lack of statistical information
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has stated that the UK does not retain statistics of how many primates are imported for the pet trade, as imports for sale are simply recorded as imports for trade purposes. Thus, there is no means to establish whether a sale is for the animal to be kept as a pet, or for research or for display in a zoo. Animals are not tracked once they have entered the country. (Hansard Written Answers 9 July 2008, Column 1590W.)

According to a BBC report the RSPCA and Wild Futures believe between 2,485 and 7,454 primates are kept in homes in England but say this is a “conservative estimate”.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 – a failed promise
During the passage of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, animal protection organizations, Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords, raised serious concerns about the problems of keeping primates kept as pets. Nevertheless, Parliament refused to ban this practice and it was left for the Government to deal with by regulation. In 2010 Defra published a code of practice on privately kept non-human primates, which contains instructions for the husbandry and care of captive primates that “keepers” must follow to be in line with Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. However, it is stated that a breach of the provisions of the code is not an offence.

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act licensing system does not apply to all primates
In May 2007 the Government de-listed several species of monkey from the DWA, making it easier for individuals to acquire these animals. According to DEFRA, these animals were not dangerous enough to be included in the DWA.

Contact for further information:
Phil Buckley
Media Relations Director
Animal Defenders International
07716 018250, 020 7630 3344

Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.


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