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Animal Protection Organizations Applaud Introduction of the Captive Primate Safety Act

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

Born Free USA, the Jane Goodall Institute, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and International Fund for Animal Welfare

The Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, the Jane Goodall Institute, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and International Fund for Animal Welfare applaud U.S. Reps Michael G. Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. for introducing H.R. 2856, the Captive Primate Safety Act, and urge the bill’s swift passage. The bill amends the Lacey Act to prohibit interstate commerce in monkeys, apes and other primates for the exotic pet trade.

About half of the states already prohibit private possession of some or all primate species as pets, but primates are easily obtained via the Internet and through out-of-state dealers and auctions, making a federal law 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.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS said: “The Captive Primate Safety Act is necessary, common-sense legislation for the welfare of animals and human safety. Private citizens are ill-equipped to properly care for these complex and intelligent animals, and law enforcement agencies expend countless hours and resources responding to the escapes, attacks and neglect cases that inevitably arise when primates are kept in private hands.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick said: "Keeping primates as household pets is both inhumane to animals and dangerous to humans. The dangers of keeping exotic 'pets' are illustrated by the more than 200 injuries to people by primates since 1999 and their potential to be a threat to public health. It's for these reasons that I was proud to re-introduce the Captive Primate Safety Act along with my colleague Congressman Blumenauer—a common-sense reform that will keep primates out of the hands of private citizens."

Rep. Blumenauer said: "Allowing primates to be held as pets for individuals can result in nothing but tragedy. Time and again we have seen that it is dangerous and unhealthy for both humans and captive primates and is cruel to the animals. In the 21st Century, there is no place for keeping primates as pets. This legislation will protect our families, and ensure the humane treatment of these animals. We will continue to gather support for this bill and educate as many members as we can until it passes and this unacceptable practice is ended."

Dangerous incidents involving captive primates abound. So far this year such incidents include:

  • A Texas police officer attacked by a capuchin monkey as he handed a speeding ticket through an open truck window
  • An Arkansas police officer bitten by a pet macaque monkey who escaped from a veterinary clinic
  • A pet patas monkey escaped through a car sunroof and ran loose for 30 minutes on a college campus in Virginia
  • A 6-year old Illinois boy bitten by a pet java macaque at a public park
  • A small monkey running loose in an Ohio neighborhood was shot and killed by a state wildlife officer after being deemed a public health and safety risk
  • A 2-year-old Florida girl and her mother attacked by two pet lemurs who escaped and ran wild through a Florida neighborhood, charging at neighbors and police

Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA said: “The captive primate trade involves enormous suffering and threats to human safety. These innocent animals are often confined in small cages and may even have their teeth extracted. We can’t allow animals to be mutilated in the name of companionship. There is simply no excuse for keeping nonhuman primates as pets. Wildlife belongs in the wild.”

Infant monkeys used for the pet trade are typically forcibly removed from their mothers shortly after birth. As babies, they are in high demand, but people quickly discover that primates are extremely active, messy, destructive and have a tendency to bite. Ultimately, weary of attacks on people and destruction to the home, pet monkeys are often relegated to a life of increasing isolation, loneliness, frustration and neglect.

Jeff Flocken, North America regional director for IFAW said: "Keeping a great ape or other primate as a pet is a dangerous practice equivalent to keeping a ticking time bomb. At the detriment of animal welfare, public safety and common-sense, these intelligent and highly dangerous animals are routinely exploited by the exotic pet trade. This needs to stop. We urge Congress to take action by passing the Captive Primate Safety Act."


  • Since 1990, more than 270 people— including 86 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, President George W. Bush signed the Captive Wildlife Safety Act 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 and should be added to the list of species prohibited in commercial trade.
  • 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 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 Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras: cell 240-620-3263, office 301-721-6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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