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May 8, 2012

The HSUS Urges North Carolina to Restrict Exotic Animals as Pets After Escaped Monkey Bites Three People in Asheville

The Humane Society of the United States urges North Carolina lawmakers to regulate the private ownership of exotic animals in the wake of the incident involving an escaped marmoset monkey that bit three people in Asheville, N.C. According to a neighbor, the marmoset monkey routinely escaped from a residence where she was kept as a pet. According to media reports, the monkey will be euthanized and her owner has received multiple citations for the incident.

Kim Alboum, North Carolina state director for The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement:

“North Carolina is one of only seven states with no restrictions on the private ownership of dangerous exotic pets, threatening the health and safety of residents and compromising animal welfare. The complex social, physical and psychological needs of primates cannot be met in a situation in which the animals are kept as pets and captive primates should only be kept at qualified facilities.

Primates, including small monkeys, are incredibly strong and become aggressive, dangerous and unpredictable when they reach sexual maturity. Primates kept as pets are taken from their mothers when just hours or days old. These animals are often kept in inhumane and isolated conditions, causing them to develop into mentally disturbed individuals with self-destructive and neurotic behaviors. As the owner discovers that primates cause a great deal of destruction to furniture and personal belongings, the animals are inevitably subjected to extreme confinement, dooming them to lives of increasing loneliness and frustration. When they escape and injure people, they are often killed, and there are never good outcomes for these creatures.

Primates can also pose a significant public health and safety risk. Attacks from primates can result in severe lacerations, infections, disability and disfigurement. Primates can also spread deadly viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections to humans. The North Carolina Legislature needs to take a strong stand and prohibit the private ownership of primates and other dangerous exotic animals.”

The following are examples of other dangerous incidents involving pet primates in North Carolina:

Jan. 2, 2012/Southern Pines, N.C.: A 2-year-old pet rhesus macaque monkey escaped from his home and was on the loose for five days before being recaptured, enduring temperatures that dipped into the 20s. He lost approximately one pound of body weight, suffered a broken finger, scratches and chafing from the diaper he was wearing when he escaped.

March 24, 2011/McDowell County, N.C.: A 14-month-old vervet monkey broke free as he was being walked on a leash. The monkey was spotted 45 minutes later 1-1/2 miles away and was still missing a week later.

Jan. 30, 2011/Reidsville, N.C.: A woman who was caring for a friend's capuchin monkey was bitten on the hand as the monkey tried to escape from his cage.

Dec. 2, 2007/Rutherford College, N.C.: A grocery store clerk was bitten by a customer’s 18-inch-tall pet monkey when she reached out to pet the animal. The monkey bit and scratched her right cheek just below the eye. The victim was treated at a local hospital for the bite and put on strong antibiotics.

Dec. 1, 2006/Nahunta, N.C.: A pet Japanese macaque escaped from a home and was on the loose for almost two months before being recaptured more than 11 miles away.

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Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440; rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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