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For Immediate Release: 02/24/09

US Congress moves swiftly on legislation to stop “pet” primate trade

Legislators determined to prevent another Travis the chimp tragedy

Washington, DC — Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute (Born Free USA) today congratulated the US House of Representatives for its swift passage of the Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 80) by an overwhelming vote of 323-95. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and championed by Born Free USA and The Humane Society of the United States, prohibits interstate and international movement of nonhuman primates if they are to be kept as “pets.”

“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 cages 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. Wildlife belongs in the wild.”

Each year, there are numerous incidents of privately-held primates harming people. Just this month, in an incident that has garnered international attention, a woman was critically mauled by a “pet” chimpanzee in Stamford, CT. “Travis the chimpanzee had escaped and caused trouble in the community before,” Roberts added. “Just because you put clothes on a chimpanzee doesn’t make him any less wild and potentially dangerous.”

Incidents involving primate escapes or injuries to humans have occurred nationwide in recent years including chimpanzees, macaques, lemurs, snow monkeys, capuchins, and baboons — baboons and macaques have even bitten children, one case involving 17-month-old girl. In many cases, escaped nonhuman primates are killed. Primates also pose a disease risk including Ebola, tuberculosis, and herpes-B.

“Primates are highly social and intelligent creatures who shouldn’t be shipped around the country just to languish in people’s bedrooms, basements, or backyards,” adds Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President of HSUS.

Born Free USA and HSUS have now called on the US Senate to move the legislation expeditiously so it can be signed into law this year.

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.


Editor’s Notes:

Adam Roberts, Born Free USA, 202.445.3572

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