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For Immediate Release: 07/26/07

Case of Mississippi “attack” monkey spurs call for state legislation

National group and Sanctuary ask Governor to ban keeping nonhuman primates as pets

San Antonio, TX — Justin, a pet Japanese macaque who attacked a Mississippi IRS agent, has safely arrived at the Animal Protection Institute (API) Primate Sanctuary in Texas through a joint effort between API and the Mississippi Animal Rescue League in Jackson. The owner of the monkey was given a citation for keeping a captive wild animal without a license. In Mississippi, keepers of inherently dangerous wild animals, such as macaques, must obtain a state license.

API is now calling on Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to introduce legislation to prohibit the private possession of nonhuman primates. In a letter sent today to the Governor, API outlined concerns for animal welfare and public safety that come with the care of such complex animals.

“This incident is a prime example of why nonhuman primates and other dangerous wild animals should not be kept as pets in Mississippi,” says Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Director of Legal and Government Affairs for API. “Luckily, this story has a happy ending for this particular monkey, but all over the U.S. both monkeys and people are put in unnecessary danger by this highly irresponsible practice.”

“Keeping nonhuman primates as ‘pets’ is cruel,” says Dr. Ned Buyukmihci, veterinarian and co-director of the API Primate Sanctuary. “It results in severe emotional and behavioral problems which lead to dysfunctional behavior, often including attacks on people. Justin, who is no exception, is also in poor physical condition and has been mutilated by having his teeth removed in a vain attempt to make him less dangerous.”

The API Primate Sanctuary is one of only a few primate sanctuaries in the United States where the majority of the residents live in open-topped, free-ranging enclosures of several acres. The Sanctuary is refuge to a number of former pets, who were abandoned by their owners because of disturbed and aggressive behavior. The API Primate Sanctuary will provide rehabilitation and lifelong care for its new arrival, who will join others of his kind in a natural setting.

The Animal Protection Institute is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. The API Primate Sanctuary is currently home to more than 400 nonhuman primates. To “adopt” a primate or find out more about life at the Sanctuary, visit www.api4primates.org.

Text of the letter, pictures of Justin, and DVD b-roll footage of the Sanctuary are available to the media; email press@bornfreeusa.org.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute, 916-447-3085 x205

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