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For Immediate Release: 11/22/10

Arizona Needs To Ban This Type of ‘Pet’

Born Free USA Says Monkey Killing Should Spur State To Prohibit Non-Human Primates as Pets

Following the killing of a pet monkey who bit his owner while en route to be euthanized in Phoenix last week, Born Free USA, a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, is calling upon Arizona legislators to ban the keeping of non-human primates as pets in Arizona.

“Arizona already restricts the ownership of big cats, orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas as pets by requiring a permit,” says Will Travers, chief executive officer of Born Free USA. “However, people can possess other non-infant primates as ‘pets’ if the animal is free from any zoonotic diseases. Legislators must act immediately to ban the private ownership of all non-human primates, before someone is seriously injured or killed, or before another animal loses their life. Wildlife belongs in the wild. It is an issue of public safety and animal welfare.”

Primates are wild animals and, like all wild animals, can exhibit unpredictable and aggressive behavior. There are numerous reported incidents of their escapes and attacks on people and other animals. Many of these incidents tragically involve children. To serve as a resource for media, lawmakers, activists and the public, and to help shed light on the magnitude of the issue, Born Free USA has the only interactive online database of deadly and dangerous captive wild animal incidents (www.bornfreeusa.org/database).

Non-human primates are one of the most common wild animals privately owned. Often bought as “cute” infants, they tend to exhibit unpredictable behavior after age 2, become larger and more aggressive, and will bite to defend themselves and to establish dominance.

Born Free USA is all too familiar with the harm that can come from private possession of primates. Its Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Texas is one of only a few primate sanctuaries in the United States where the majority of residents live in free-ranging natural enclosures of several acres. The sanctuary is refuge to a number of former pets, who were abandoned by their owners because of disturbed and aggressive behavior.

“The current trend across the country is passing legislation to prohibit specific species of dangerous exotic animals, including non-human primates, from future possession,” Travers says. “It is time that Arizona legislators introduce legislation to address this critical issue.”

Born Free USA (BFUSA) is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, BFUSA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and destructive international wildlife trade. BFUSA’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to more than 500 primates rescued from laboratories, roadside zoos and private possession. BFUSA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation,” the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will, now CEO of both organizations. BFUSA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at www.bornfreeusa.org; on twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig, 203/270-8929; rodicompany@earthlink.net

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