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For Immediate Release: 05/14/09

Senate Committee Extends Lifeline to Primates, Endangered Cats and Dogs

Washington, DC — Born Free USA today congratulated the United States Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee on its passage of S. 529, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2009, and H.R. 80, the Captive Primate Safety Act. The bills would make vital funds available for conservation projects to save imperiled species of wild felids and canids around the world and impose restrictions on the interstate and international movement of nonhuman primates if they are to be kept as “pets.”

“The Senate committee has wisely recognized, once again, the important role it can play in global endangered species conservation,” noted Adam M. Roberts, senior vice president of Born Free USA. “We urge the full Senate to move the bill without delay so that urgently needed funds can start flowing to the field as soon as possible.”

The Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, based on popular and successful laws to conserve African and Asian elephants, tigers, rhinos, great apes, marine turtles, and migratory birds, would support a number of species of particular concern to Born Free USA.

Roberts noted: “Endangered species are simply unable to cope with the endless barrage of threats before them: indiscriminate poisoning, shrinking habitats, lack of prey species, trophy hunting, poaching, and illegal trade. Urgent and immediate action is required to mitigate these threats and pave the way for a stable future for endangered animals such as Africa’s lions and the critically endangered Ethiopian wolf.”

Each year, there are numerous incidents of privately-held primates harming people. Recently, in an incident that has garnered international attention, a woman was critically mauled by a “pet” chimpanzee in Stamford, Connecticut. “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.”

“The primate trade involves enormous animal suffering and threats to human safety,” continued Roberts. “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.”

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.

Born Free USA is a leading national non-profit animal advocacy organization working to conserve and protect wildlife in the U.S. and globally. More information is available at www.bornfreeusa.org.


Adam M. Roberts, Born Free USA, 202-445-3572

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