(PETS/WILDLIFE) Members of Animal Defenders International (ADI) are urging a ban on the use of primates—including monkeys, apes, chimpanzees, orangutans, among other species—as pets in the UK. The shocking number of primate pets ranges from 900 to over 7,500 throughout the region, and it is unknown how many of these primates were stolen from the wild by pet traders.
There’s no question that keeping primates as pets is inhumane. Primates are very social animals who need to live in the wild in order to strive, and ADI is demanding the UK government take immediate action. Read on to learn more about the suffering involved in capturing, transporting, and socially isolating these wild animals, and sign the petition urging the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ban the cruel trade in primates as pets. — Global Animal
Animal Defenders International (ADI)
ADI urges UK government to call time on primate pet trade
Animal protection group Animal Defenders International (ADI) is today urging the government to end the suffering of monkeys and lesser apes kept as pets by stopping the trade in these intelligent, wild animals who Defra itself admits “should not be considered as pets” and cannot be “fully tamed”.
The call comes as the deadline approaches for comments to an inquiry into the keeping of primates as pets – launched by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and for which ADI has provided written evidence.
Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of Animal Defenders International (ADI):
“Primates do not make suitable pets – they are wild animals with complex social needs and require highly specialised care. Primates can live for up to 45 years and members of the public are unaware of their needs and cannot provide the level of commitment that they require.”
“The welfare of primate pets is severely compromised and poorly protected by legislation. ADI believes that a ban on the keeping of monkeys and apes is the only way to ensure these emotional, intelligent animals do not suffer through ignorance and poor environments.”
No official numbers are kept on primate pets in the UK, but estimates range widely, from 900 to 7,500 individuals, although experts consider that the actual number could far exceed 7,500. Of these, it is not known how many animals have been imported into the UK – some of whom will have been taken from the wild – as pet trade numbers are not recorded by the government.
Primates are intelligent, social animals who have evolved to live in an extensive, rich environment in the wild, nurtured by the company of their own species and stimulated by a challenging habitat. A life of captivity – and, for many, confinement and isolation – leads to frustration and psychological problems, resulting in stereotypic, repetitive behaviours which can include self-mutilation, pacing and teeth-grinding. Such behaviours are frequently observed in pet primates.
It is not possible for even the most well meaning owner to provide for the wide spectrum of needs essential to a healthy primate and primates will inevitably suffer from the restrictions of life as a pet, denied the opportunity to live in a normal family group and display their normal social, physiological and psychological behaviors.
Legislation provides little protection for primate pets. It is not an offence for owners to be in breach of the ‘Code of Practice for the Welfare of Privately Kept Non-Human Primates’ and although a licensing system exists under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, this does not apply to all primate species, for example squirrel monkeys and tamarins, which account for approx one-third of primate pets in the UK. As a result, non-compliance is considered to be high.
Ahead of a total ban on the keeping of primates as pets, ADI recommends 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.
ADI also recommends the national licensing of all species of privately-owned primates which would set standards of welfare and environmental enrichment and make provision for the removal of animals kept in unsuitable conditions.
In addition, ADI would 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.