(Lynne also backed a parliamentary motion calling on the Government to take action on this issue.)
Many people will be shocked to learn that it is still legal in the UK to keep a primate as a pet – for some species you do not even need a licence.
IFAW launched its in-depth report ‘Born to be wild’ at the parliamentary reception, revealing that there may be as many as 1,500 to 3,000 monkeys and other primates being kept as pets in this country.
The report takes a close look at the animal welfare, conservation, and public health and safety threats of this trade, and includes stories about monkeys and other primates smuggled into Europe, or rescued from private owners.
IFAW is calling on the Government to ban private owners from keeping pet monkeys, lemurs and other primates and to stop the trade in all primates for pets.
Lynne Jones said: “Monkeys and other primates are wild animals which normally live in tropical forests. It’s almost impossible for private owners to care for them adequately in captivity and the animals suffer as a result.
“All species of primate are threatened in the wild, and the pet trade is an added pressure on their numbers. By allowing people in Britain to keep them as pets, we are sending the wrong message to developing countries struggling to prevent illegal hunting and wildlife trade.”
For more information, please contact:
Lynne Jones on 020 7219 4190
For information about the report, contact:
Gill Sanders – Tel: 0207 587 6714, Mob: 07801 613524
Rosa Hill – Tel: 0207 587 6715, Mob: 07801 613530.
Visit www.ifaw.org to download a copy of the report.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Key findings of the report:
· Primates are wild animals, whether captive bred or born in the wild, and do not make suitable pets in our homes.
· Primates are highly intelligent, long-lived, and social tree-dwelling animals. It is virtually impossible for a private keeper to meet their physical and psychological needs in captivity. Boredom and frustration lead to aggression, repetitive behaviour (such as rocking and over-grooming), and self-injury.
· All primates are threatened in the wild. The keeping and trade in pet primates creates a demand for threatened and endangered animals to be hunted illegally from the wild. Large numbers of primates die during capture and transport.
· Keeping primates as pets poses health risks to people. Because primates and humans are biologically similar, there is particular risk of disease transfer. Primates also have the potential inflict severe injuries.
· IFAW researchers discovered how easy it is to obtain a pet primate in the UK. During one week in January 2005, more than 140 primates were advertised for sale on the Internet; From 1999 to 2002, 345 primates were advertised for sale in ‘Cage and Aviary Bird’ magazine; one in 15 pet shops (from a sample of 750) offered to help source a pet primate.
IFAW’s main recommendations to the UK Government:
Phase out the keeping of primates in private ownership
Prohibit the trade in all primates for commercial and personal purposes
Introduce a licensing system for sanctuaries caring for primates
Increase resources for enforcement of legislation
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