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June 4, 2009

Conn. Lawmakers Pass Bill to Ban Chimpanzees as Pets and Prevent Internet Hunting

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States commends Connecticut lawmakers for unanimously passing animal protection and public safety measures late Wednesday night, which was the last day of the state's legislative session. Lawmakers voted to ban the private ownership of some primates as pets and prevent the practice known as Internet hunting.

H.B. 6552 originally would have banned the private ownership of many exotic wildlife species as pets, but was amended to only prohibit ownership of chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas. The bill came in response to the tragic mauling of a woman by a chimpanzee kept as a pet in a Connecticut home in February. The legislation also prohibits Internet hunting, which is the use of a computer to remotely control a weapon to hunt a live animal.

"Although the policy on exotic pets is incomplete, and should have been written to include other exotic animals who are capable of causing harm to people, it is important that a law was enacted to ban keeping great apes as pets," said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. "We look forward to working with the Department of Environmental Protection and state lawmakers to better align Connecticut law with those states that have more comprehensive policies."

The Humane Society of the United States thanks Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for his leadership in advocating for the exotic pets ban, and state Sen. Edward Meyer, D-12, and state Rep. Richard Roy, D-119, co-chairs of the Environment Committee, and Reps. Diana Urban, D-43 and Maryanne Hornish, D-62, for working to successfully pass the legislation.

The Connecticut General Assembly also approved two important measures to protect Connecticut residents and their companion animals.  Legislation allowing individuals to establish trusts to provide for the care of their pets after their death, and a bill strengthening protections for consumers who purchase sick dogs and cats from pet stores and commercial kennels are also on their way to Gov. Jodi Rell for her signature.

Facts:

  • About 20 states prohibit primates as pets.
  • The U.S. Congress is poised to pass the Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 80/S. 462) to prohibit interstate commerce of primates for the pet trade. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February and was approved by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in May, and is now pending in the full Senate. The bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and co-sponsors include Rep. James Himes, D-Conn. The bill was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and David Vitter, R-La., and co-sponsors include Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Ind.-Conn.
  • Connecticut is the 40th state to prohibit Internet hunting. At the federal level, U.S. Reps. Steven Cohen, D-Tenn., Brad Sherman, D-Calif., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky, have introduced the Sportsmanship in Hunting Act of 2009 (H.R. 2308) to end Internet hunting nationwide.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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