Urgent action required to establish number of pet primates

10 June 2014

Urgent action is required to establish the numbers of primates kept in captivity by private individuals across the UK and to improve their welfare, warn MPs in their latest report.

Launching its report, Primates as Pets, the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Miss Anne McIntosh said:

"We take the welfare of primates in captivity very seriously, so we were surprised to find that so little is known about the types and numbers of primates being kept or traded by private individuals in the UK and about the manner in which they are being kept.

It is paramount the Government acts promptly to address this ‘evidence deficit’.  

We do not rule out a ban, but conclude that such a step must be based on solid evidence and cannot be imposed before every opportunity to improve the operation of our existing framework has been exhausted.

We call on Defra to commission independent research to establish the extent of the problems in this area and to report back to us with a plan of action within six months of receiving the research results.

In the meantime, we recommend a number of changes to the current regulatory framework governing primates kept by private individuals to help protect their welfare over the short to medium term.

In particular, the Government must ensure that standards for primates kept in private match those required in zoos. The quality of care that these animals enjoy should be the same whether they happen to be kept in a circus, a pet shop, a private home or a zoo.

If these suggested changes prove insufficient and the evidence for doing so proves compelling, then a ban on the trade and keeping of privately kept primates should remain an option for the future.”

MPs also call for the Government to:

  • Ensure that legislation governing pet sales is fit for the internet age
  • Boost public awareness of existing regulatory controls and guidance
  • Increase the utility and efficacy of the Primate Code
  • Expedite the publication of guidance to local authorities on the Dangerous Wild Animals Act

Further information

Image: iStockphoto/ video: Parliamentary copyright

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