Updated Alert on Captive Primate Safety Act

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Captive Primate Safety Act Aims to Cap the Dangers of Pet Monkeys


July 11, 2007



U.S. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) and Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) have introduced the Captive Primate Safety Act, H.R. 2964, which seeks to halt the commerce in monkeys, chimpanzees, and other primates for the exotic pet trade. The Humane Society of the United States urges Congress to pass this legislation swiftly to protect public safety and animal welfare.


"Primates are highly intelligent, social, and dangerous animals," said Michael Markarian, HSUS executive vice president. "They belong in the wild, not in our bedrooms and basements. It’s time to end this dangerous monkey business."


"This legislation responds to a matter of public health and safety," Rep. Johnson said. "The animals deserve to live where their needs will be met and their conditions will be monitored. And people deserve to be free from the dangers these animals can pose when kept as pets. I am pleased that my colleagues have joined me in addressing this issue."


"It is inhumane to cage primates in private homes," Rep. Kirk said. "Besides the animal cruelty concerns, serious health risks are created with the unregulated transfer of primates, both for their owners and the public. The Captive Primate Safety Act takes important steps to ensure responsible care and appropriate guardianship for these animals."


People often get these animals as infants and then find they grow too difficult to handle. Chimpanzees become many times strong than humans, and even small monkeys can inflict serious injury by biting or scratching. In addition to the risk of attack, primates can spread deadly diseases such as Herpes B virus.


"The global trade in exotic animals — especially primates — as pets is a very dangerous enterprise indeed," noted Adam Roberts, vice president of Born Free USA. "We urge the US Congress to lead the way in closing down this unnecessary commercial wildlife trafficking."


A companion bill, S. 1498, was introduced in May by U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and David Vitter (R-La.). Boxer is the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, where the bill has been assigned. The House bill has been assigned to the Committee on Natural Resources.




*           An estimated 15,000 primates are kept in private hands in the United States.

*           At least 100 people have been injured by captive primates over the past decade, including 29 children, according to the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition.

*           Federal health regulations have prohibited importing primates into the United States for the pet trade since 1975.

*           About 17 states prohibit the private ownership of primates as pets, and additional states require permits for them.

*           The federal bill does not ban possession, but addresses the interstate commerce in primates, who are often sold over the Internet and at auctions around the country.

*           The bill targets the pet trade and has no impact on zoos or other licensed facilities.

*           The bill is similar to the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, which Congress passed unanimously in 2003 to bar interstate commerce in lions, tigers, and other big cats as pets. It includes technical corrections to facilitate enforcement of the big cats bill.

*           More than 50 organizations have joined The HSUS in supporting the Captive Primate Safety Act, including the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Born Free USA, and the Jane Goodall Institute.

*           The Captive Primate Safety Act passed the U.S. Senate unanimously in 2006 but was blocked in the U.S. House by Representative Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), then-chairman of the House Resources Committee. Pombo was defeated in his reelection bid.




*           July 10, 2007 – Captive Primates Safety Act, H.R. 2964, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

*           May 25, 2007 – Iowa bill prohibiting primates and other wild animals as pets signed into law.

*           May 24, 2007 – Captive Primate Safety Act, S. 1498, introduced in the U.S. Senate.

*           April 30, 2007 – Washington state bill prohibiting private possession of primates and other wild animals signed into law.

*           July 11, 2006 – Captive Primate Safety Act passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent.

*           June 19, 2006 – Captive Primate Safety Act passed the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

*           May 16, 2006 – Maryland bill prohibiting primates and other wild animals as pets signed into law.

*           April 6, 2006 – Louisiana banned private possession of primates.

*           July 27, 2005 – Captive Primate Safety Act introduced in the U.S. Senate.

*           July 15, 2005 – Kentucky banned private possession of primates and other wild animals.

*           March 16, 2005 – Captive Primate Safety Act introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

*           March 3, 2005 – A man was brutally beaten by a chimpanzee who escaped his enclosure at an exotic animal facility in California.




The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 10 million Americans, or one of every 30. 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 <http://www.humanesociety.org/> .



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