Labour announces ban on pet primates
Keeping and trading pet primates will be illegal under the next Labour government, the Party announces today (Tuesday 20 August).
An estimated 5,000 primates are being kept as pets in the UK, including marmosets, capuchins, squirrel monkeys and lemurs.
Primates are highly intelligent animals and not suitable to be kept in captivity. Similar to humans, they are social animals, yet they are regularly taken away from their mothers at a young age and kept in isolation, becoming depressed and displaying behaviour such as self-mutilation, hair pulling and rocking back and forth.
Often primates are kept in cages and denied proper lighting and nutrition causing painful and debilitating diseases such as Metabolic bone disease (rickets).
Current legislation states that animal owners must prevent “unnecessary suffering” and must take “all reasonable steps to meet their animal’s needs”, but is difficult to enforce and a breach of its provisions is not an offence.
The RSPCA says it receives a call nearly every week relating to the welfare of pet primates – some calls referred to up to 30 animals.
Only a total ban on the keeping and trading of primates will end animal cruelty. This measure forms part of Labour’s Animal Welfare Manifesto, which will be published later in the month.
Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Minister, said:
“It is astonishing that it is still entirely legal to keep primates as pets, regardless of how endangered or dangerous the animal is. Anyone can browse the internet and buy a primate with little or no checks and inspections.
“We know that primates are very intelligent, social animals with complex needs that simply cannot be met in a home environment.
“Labour will ban people from keeping pet primates as part of our plans to bring Britain’s animal welfare laws into the 21st Century.”
Notes to Editors
- An estimated 5,000 primates are being kept as pets in the UK https://www.bornfree.org.uk/pet-primates
- Currently, primate ownership and trading is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 and DEFRA’s Code of Practice for the Welfare of Privately Kept Primates (the “primate code”) of 2010
- Rescue groups such as the RSPCA and Wild Futures reportedly receive approximately one call a week relating to the welfare of a captive monkey https://www.wildfutures.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Primates-as-pets_Is-there-a-case-for-regulation-2012_LR.pdf
Such legislation is already in place in Belgium and several other European countries, and has led to a reduction in the overall number of primates being kept as pets and an increase in members of the public reporting illicit pet ownership http://www.eurogroupforanimals.org/wp-content/uploads/EfA-Report-PL-Belgium.pdf