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For Immediate Release: 04/03/09

Missouri chimpanzee attacks sparks call for legislation banning nonhuman primates as pets

Winston, MO — Born Free USA, a national non-profit wildlife conservation organization, today sent a letter to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon urging him to take the necessary steps to ban the keeping of nonhuman primates as pets after a police officer was forced Monday to shoot to death an escaped chimpanzee. The chimpanzee, a 9 year-old male named Timmy, was shot to death after reportedly opening the door of the police car and attempting to attack the officer.

“Missouri currently has no law governing the keeping of exotic animals in private possession. Lawmakers are currently considering legislation to prohibit wild cats and bears as pets and nonhuman primates must be added to the list of dangerous animals,” said Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., senior vice president of Born Free USA. “It is unacceptable that people are allowed to own non-human primates. They have repeatedly proven to be dangerous wild animals and deserve to be with others of their kind.”

This is the second major incident in as many months involving chimpanzees kept as pets. In February, a chimpanzee named Travis was also killed after critically mauling a Connecticut woman. Travis was sold to his Connecticut owner by Missouri chimpanzee breeder Connie Casey, reportedly the same person who sold Timmy to the three defendants charged in this most recent incident. Ms. Casey was featured April 1, 2009 in an undercover investigation on the television show Inside Edition, willing to sell a baby chimpanzee to the Inside Edition reporter.

“The owners of these animals are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives and have absolutely no regard for the lives of the chimpanzees,” adds Paquette. “For the safety of people and animals in Missouri, and indeed nationwide, lawmakers must act now to prohibit non-human 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. Time after time it has been proven — the only place these wild animals belong is 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.

Click here for a list of incidents and attacks involving exotic animals, including primates, kept as pets.

For more information contact press@bornfreeusa.org

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