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For Immediate Release: 06/18/08

U.S. House of Representatives passes bill to stop the trade of primates as “pets”

Washington, DC — Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA) applauded today’s Congressional passage of the Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2964). The bill, championed by Born Free USA and The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS), prohibits interstate and international movement of nonhuman primates if they are to be kept as “pets.” The Act is sponsored by Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

“The primate trade involves enormous animal suffering and threats to human safety,” says Adam Roberts, Senior Vice President of Born Free USA. “These innocent animals may be confined in small enclosures or have their teeth or fingernails removed. We can’t allow animals to be mutilated in the name of companionship. There is simply no excuse for keeping primates as pets and the trade must stop.”

Each year, there are numerous incidents of primates kept in private hands harming people. Just last week, a child’s finger was bitten off by a capuchin monkey being kept as an illegal pet in New York. Moreover, primates can carry a variety of diseases transmissible to humans.

“Primates are highly social and intelligent creatures who shouldn't be shipped around the country just to languish in small cages,” added Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President of The HSUS. “Wild animals belong in the wild, not in our bedrooms and basements. It's time to end this dangerous monkey business.”

Born Free USA and The HSUS have called on the Senate to move the Captive Primate Safety Act expeditiously so it can be signed into law this year.

Simultaneously, Born Free USA is working across the country to pass state legislation barring the keeping of dangerous wild animals as pets and has passed similar protective laws in Washington, Kentucky, and Louisiana. The group also has legislation pending in North Carolina and Ohio, two of just nine states without laws restricting the private possession of dangerous wild animals.

Unfortunately, when individuals who acquire primates realize they can no longer care for the animals, they often discard them and leave their care to others. Born Free USA’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas, for instance, offers homes to hundreds of nonhuman primates, many of whom were kept inappropriately, and many times, abusively, as pets. 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.

“The level of direct care and rehabilitation we provide to these animals, and the number of requests we get to house them, proves that keeping them as pets is simply a bad idea,” adds Roberts. “Not only are these animals dangerous, but they are wild animals with very specific physical and emotional needs that the vast majority of people cannot provide.”

Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute is a national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the US and globally. Born Free USA is also a founding member of the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, www.cwapc.org. More information is available at www.bornfreeusa.org.

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Contact:
Adam Roberts, Born Free USA, 202.445.3572

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