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For Immediate Release: 02/17/09

Stamford, CT chimpanzee mauling sparks call for legislation banning nonhuman primates as pets

Stamford, CT — Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA), a national non-profit animal advocacy organization, today sent a letter to Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell urging her to take the necessary steps to ban the keeping of nonhuman primates as pets after a woman was critically mauled by a friend’s chimpanzee on Monday. The chimpanzee, named Travis, was stabbed several times by his owner and finally shot to death by police.

“Connecticut already prohibits the keeping of big cats, bears, wolves, coyotes, venomous reptiles, alligators, and crocodiles as personal pets. Tragically, this law does not include nonhuman primates. Lawmakers must act immediately to ban the private ownership of nonhuman primates before another person is harmed or another animal loses his or her life,” said Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., senior vice president of Born Free USA. “It is unacceptable that people are allowed to own nonhuman primates. They are potentially dangerous wild animals and deserve to be with others of their own kind.”

This was the second incident involving Travis. In 2003, he escaped from his owner’s vehicle and was loose in downtown Stamford for a number of hours. Police were able to subdue him and, luckily, no one was injured.

“The owners of these animals are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives,” added Paquette. “For the safety of people and animals in Connecticut, lawmakers must act now to prohibit nonhuman primates from being kept in private hands. We are ready to work with any state legislator to craft commonsense legislation.”

“The desire to be close to exotic animals is understandable,” noted Adam Roberts, Born Free USA’s senior vice president in Washington DC and a leading supporter of the federal Captive Primate Safety Act. “But keeping primates as pets is simply unjustifiable. The risk to the animals themselves and the people who live near them is just too great. Wild animals belong in the wild.”

The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary near San Antonio, Texas, 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, on 186 acres of dense vegetation with several ponds. The majority of monkeys live freely in these enclosures with minimum human interference.

Born Free USA is a national non-profit animal welfare and conservation organization and nationally recognized leader on exotic animal legislation. More information can be found at www.bornfreeusa.org.

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Contact:
Zibby Wilder, Born Free USA, 916.267.7266

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