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June 21, 2012

The HSUS and Born Free USA Applaud the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for Advancing the Captive Primate Safety Act

Bill will prohibit interstate commerce in monkeys, apes and other nonhuman primates

Born Free USA

The Humane Society of the United States and Born Free USA applaud the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for approving the Captive Primate Safety Act, and urges its passage in the Senate. The Captive Primate Safety Act, S. 1324, amends the Lacey Act to prohibit interstate commerce in monkeys, apes and other nonhuman primates for the exotic pet trade.

The bill, introduced by U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., David Vitter, R-La., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“Primates are highly social and intelligent animals, and private citizens are ill-equipped to provide for them sufficiently,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “They are also the most dangerous of all animal groups with regard to the potential for disease transmission to humans, whether through a bite, scratch, or even a kiss.”

Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA, said, “The recent tragedy in Ohio put a spotlight on the enormous danger and suffering involved when exotic animals are kept in private possession. Yet, even after this incident and many more, the captive primate trade continues to flourish. There is no excuse for keeping exotics in private hands. Congress must pass the Captive Primate Safety Act now.”

Roughly half of the states already prohibit private possession of primates as pets, but primates are easily obtained via the Internet and through out-of-state dealers and auctions, making federal legislation necessary to support the efforts of state law enforcement and to promote global conservation efforts. Similar legislation cleared a Senate committee last year, but Congress adjourned before it could be enacted.

Facts:

  • The risk of keeping primates as pets has been illustrated time and time again, including the 2009 attack by a pet chimpanzee that inflicted catastrophic and disfiguring injuries on a Connecticut woman who, as a result, required a full face transplant. In October 2011, in Zanesville, Ohio, a macaque monkey suspected of carrying herpes-B virus was released – along with approximately 50 other dangerous exotic animals – by the owner of a private menagerie before he committed suicide.
  • Since 1990, more than 200 people – including dozens of children – have been injured by captive primates, and many more incidents likely went unreported. Primates also pose disease risks, including transmission of tuberculosis and herpes-B virus.
  • In 2003, the Captive Wildlife Safety Act was signed into law to prohibit interstate commerce of lions, tigers, and other big cats as pets. Primates face similar inhumane treatment and pose similar threats to public health and safety.
  • The Captive Primate Safety Act is narrowly crafted to target the commerce in and private possession of primates, and would not impact zoos, universities or wildlife sanctuaries.
  • The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society of Primatologists, and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians oppose the private possession of primates.

Media Contacts:

Pepper Van Tassell (HSUS): 240-751-0232; pvantassell@humanesociety.org

Rodi Rosensweig (Born Free USA): 203-270-8929; publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org

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