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For Immediate Release: 03/11/08

Congress poised to protect bears and primates

Washington, D.C. — The House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans today considered two vital animal protection and conservation bills: the Bear Protection Act (HR 5534) and the Captive Primate Safety Act (HR 2964). Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA) has endorsed both legislative initiatives and today urged Congress to move swiftly toward their passage.

The Bear Protection Act would prohibit the import, export, and interstate commerce in bear viscera, specifically the gallbladders and bile, which are used in Asia and Asian communities throughout the U.S. to treat a range of maladies from headaches to inflammation of the liver, and increasingly in non-medicinal items such as shampoos and hemorrhoid creams.

“Across America bear carcasses have been found with the gallbladders removed and the remainder of the bear’s body left to rot,” said Adam Roberts, Senior Vice President of Born Free USA. “The gallbladder trade is a cruel and wasteful practice and Congress should uniformly outlaw it immediately.”

Currently, the trade in bear parts is regulated by a patchwork of state laws with most states outlawing the trade, a small minority of states allowing the trade, and still others allowing sale of bear gallbladders if they came from elsewhere.

“The current inconsistency from state to state allows the interstate and international illegal trade to flourish. We can no longer allow the poachers and gallbladder smugglers to exploit this loophole,” continued Roberts.

At the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Zimbabwe in 1997, a resolution was passed unanimously on the “Conservation of and Trade in Bears,” which called on Parties “to demonstrably reduce the illegal trade in bear parts and derivatives by confirming, adopting or improving their national legislation to control the import and export of bear parts and derivatives, ensuring that the penalties for violations are sufficient to deter illegal trade.” The Bear Protection Act would meet this global responsibility and set an example for the rest of the world to follow.

The Captive Primate Safety Act would build upon a 2003 law and stop the trade in primates if they are to be kept as pets.

“Congress has already spoken out on exotic pet ownership by banning trade in big cats,“ adds Roberts. “Primates don’t belong in people’s homes either, much less dressed as human children and with their teeth pulled out to minimize the damage when they bite. It is wholly inappropriate and degrading to keep a wild animal in this manner.”

Both bills enjoy widespread support from a variety of organizations. The Bear Protection Act was endorsed at today’s hearing by a retired criminal investigator with the National Park Service and the American Hunters and Shooters Association. The Captive Primate Safety Act has been endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Both bills were supported by the humane and conservation communities including Born Free USA, Humane Society of the United States, and world-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Born Free USA (www.bornfreeusa.org) is a national non-profit animal welfare and conservation organization working to keep wild animals in the wild through legislation, litigation and education.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Born Free USA, 916.267.7266, press@bornfree.org

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