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For Immediate Release: 04/16/08

Monkey killing sparks new calls for legislation banning the keeping of nonhuman primates as pets in Michigan

Officials ignored requests for information, offers for help, and important medical information

Detroit, MI — Following the needless killing of a pet monkey named Mikey by Wayne County officials over the weekend, Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA), a national animal advocacy organization, is calling upon Michigan legislators to ban the keeping of nonhuman primates as pets in Michigan. Mikey was killed after he bit a young girl while being walked in public on a leash.

“Despite repeated calls to health officials, our offers to assist in this situation, and to prevent an unnecessary death, were ignored,” says Dr. Ned Buyukmihci, veterinarian and Co-director of the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary. “It was irresponsible for public officials to ignore the facts of the situation: rabies is not an issue in nonhuman primates in captivity in this country; there has never been a reported case of a human being getting rabies from a monkey. Furthermore, there was no evidence that Mikey had been exposed to rabid animals and no evidence that he was showing any signs of rabies during the six days he was held, ample proof that he was not rabid.”

“Michigan already prohibits the keeping of big cats, bears, and wolf-hybrids as personal pets. Legislators must act immediately to ban the private ownership of nonhuman primates as well — before another child is bitten or another animal loses his or her life,“ says Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Born Free USA. “It is unacceptable that people are allowed to own nonhuman primates and treat them like human children. They are potentially dangerous wild animals and deserve to be with others of their own kind.”

Born Free USA had 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.

Born Free USA had also offered to assume to costs for rabies shots for the child who was bitten, as well as to pay for Mikey’s transportation to the Sanctuary.

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). Born Free USA is also a supporter of the federal Captive Primate Safety Act (HR 2964), also backed by CWAPC members the Michigan Humane Society and Detroit Zoo, which would prohibit the import, export, and interstate commerce of nonhuman primates if they are intended to be kept as pets.

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

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