Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Opportunity missed to tackle primate pet issue

Posted: 10 June 2014

Leading animal protection organisation Animal Defenders International (ADI) has branded the release of a report today into the keeping of primates as pets as a “missed opportunity” to tackle this serious welfare issue head-on.

While the report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee supports the principle of a ban on keeping primates as pets – a measure supported by ADI, as well as experts, the pet industry and welfare groups – it conversely describes such a measure as “draconian”, calling for improvements to existing regulations to be exhausted first.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International said: “Primates are intelligent, emotional, long-lived, wild animals, whose highly complex needs make them totally unsuitable as pets. It is imperative that the Government takes urgent action to prevent their suffering by introducing a ban at the earliest opportunity – a ban is the most cost-effective solution.”

One of the key recommendations of the report by EFRA is for further research to be undertaken into the issue. No official statistics are kept on the number of primates kept as pets in the UK but estimates range widely from 900 to 7,500 individuals, with experts stating that the actual number could far exceed this. However, it is unclear whether DEFRA intends to obtain this data that Parliament and the public would like to see.

During its inquiry EFRA found widespread support for the view that primates should not be kept as pets. In its report, EFRA state that “consensus exists among veterinary associations, animal welfare organisations and Government that it is not appropriate to keep primates “as pets”… The pet industry has expressed similar views”.

In its own submission, in addition to a ban on the keeping of primates as pets, ADI also called for immediate action to be taken 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.

Presently, primate pets are licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (DWAA), however some of the most commonly kept species are exempt from this requirement, which focuses on protecting people from animals rather than safeguarding the welfare of the animals themselves. Acknowledging the failings of the DWAA, EFRA stated that it “cannot be considered to be an effective mechanism for protecting the welfare of pet primates.” In addition, it also recommends a review of the Pet Animals Act (1951).

Jan Creamer “Despite several legislative measures already being in place, primates are still not being adequately protected. It is time for the Government to take decisive action, putting a simple, effective prohibition in place which will be easier to enforce and guarantee animal welfare.”

The inquiry was launched by EFRA to coincide with the review of Defra’s ‘Code of Practice for the Welfare of Privately Kept Non-Human Primates’, which is due to take place next year and has been widely criticised for its ineffectiveness.


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The report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is the result of its inquiry into the keeping of primates as pets, launched in December 2013 and which closed in January 2014, and to which ADI provided written evidence.

EFRA report “Primates as Pets”

ADI urges UK government to call time on primate pet trade

Animal Defenders International
With offices in London, Los Angeles 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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