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For Immediate Release: 11/22/10

New York Should Revise Rabies Testing Laws

Born Free USA Says Monkey Attack Adds to Growing List of Wild Animal Incidences and Signals That More-Humane Regulations Are Needed

Following the killing of a pet monkey named Jada who escaped from her owner and bit a woman in Oneida Castle, N.Y., last week, Born Free USA — a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation — is asking state legislators to revisit rabies testing requirements. Current New York law required that Jada be killed by officials in order to confirm the absence of rabies via brain tissue sampling.

“Rabies is not an issue in non-human primates in captivity in the United States,” says Will Travers, chief executive officer of Born Free USA. “There has never been a reported case of a human being getting rabies from a monkey. Quarantining Jada could have provided proof that she was not rabid, and then she could have been transferred to a sanctuary. ‘Pet’ primate attacks are frighteningly common and prove over and over that wild animals must live in the wild. No matter how well ‘trained’ or seemingly ‘tame’ they may be, they are not pets.”

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. The 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 hosts a number of former pets who were abandoned by their owners because of disturbed and aggressive behavior.

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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