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For Immediate Release: 04/11/08

Stay of execution urged for monkey who bit child

Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary offers lifetime care for confiscated macaque

Trenton, MI — Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA), a national animal advocacy organization, is calling upon public health officials to publicly declare that they will not kill Mikey, the monkey who bit a six-year-old Trenton girl earlier this week. The monkey’s owner was walking him on a leash outside a church when the incident occurred.

“This is a tragic situation. There is no medical reason why this monkey should be killed,” says Dr. Ned Buyukmihci, veterinarian and Co-director of the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. “The only reported case of a ‘pet’ monkey having rabies was almost a hundred years ago and involved a monkey bitten by a rabid dog. Any other zoonotic disease could as easily be identified without having to kill Mikey. Born Free USA is offering to quarantine the animal as well as provide him an appropriate home for life. Killing Mikey should not even be an option.”

Born Free USA has offered to re-home the macaque at its Primate Sanctuary near San Antonio, Texas, which is home to more than 500 macaques, baboons and vervets, many of whom came from deplorable or inappropriate private homes or businesses. The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is one of the very few in the U.S. that provides large, free-ranging, natural enclosures. The Sanctuary features 186 acres of dense vegetation with several ponds. The majority of monkeys live freely in these enclosures with minimum human interference.

“Monkeys are wild animals and do not belong in people’s backyards or other captive situations, and this is a prime example of why,” adds Dr. Buyukmihci. “We hope our offer to re-home Mikey to our Sanctuary will be accepted so he can live out the rest of his days in a natural environment with others of his kind.”

“Trenton health officials must immediately review protocols for dealing with such situations so that animals do not continue to pay for human mistakes with their lives,” says Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Born Free USA. “Michigan already wisely prohibits acquisition of big cats, bears, and wolf-hybrids if they are to be kept as pets; legislators must act immediately to ban the private ownership ofnonhuman primates as well — before another child is bitten or another animal is destroyed.”

Additionally, Born Free USA is calling for urgent passage of federal legislation spearheaded by the organization, the Captive Primate Safety Act, which would prohibit the import, export, and interstate commerce of non-human primates if they are intended to be kept as “pets.” This vital national legislation (H.R. 2964) is currently moving its way through the Congressional process.

The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary has offered of lifetime care for Mikey and has also offered to pay for rabies shots for the girl who was bitten.

Born Free USA (www.bornfreeusa.org) is a national non-profit animal welfare and conservation organization and a member of the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition (www.cwapc.org).


Zibby Wilder, Born Free USA, 916.267.7266, press@bornfreeusa.org

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