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For Immediate Release: 06/12/14

Born Free USA and The Born Free Foundation React to Parliamentary Report on ‘Pet’ Primates

Born Free CEO Adam M. Roberts cautiously welcomes recognition of problem in the UK, but urges swift action on ‘pet’ primates

Washington, D.C. -– Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, global leaders in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, this week cautiously welcomed a report from the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee regarding the keeping of primates as pets, and urged swift action to implement a nationwide UK prohibition on the dangerous private ownership of these animals.

Adam Roberts, acting CEO of The Born Free Foundation in the UK, and CEO of Born Free USA, which is pushing national legislation in America to prohibit the trade in primates as pets nationwide, said, “While the report echoes the concerns of animal welfare groups on some aspects of the keeping of primates as pets, in other areas it is off the mark. We are concerned that one of the main recommendations in the report is that there be more research on the scale of the trade in primates as pets before a ban is considered. The question is not one of numbers – it is one of animal welfare.”

Experts agree that primates are ill-suited for private ownership, where their behavioral, psychological, and environmental needs cannot be met. Roberts says, “Whether there are 1,000 or 10,000 primates in homes in Britain, it is too many.”

In fact, Born Free is already working to pull together the best and most reliable evidence on the matter. On May 29, international primatologists, campaigners, veterinarians, lawyers, students, and many more gathered in London for a conference organized by Born Free and the Humane Society International UK to answer the question, "Should primates be kept as pets in the UK?”

The conference included discussions on the welfare of primates as pets, the problems with the current legal and enforcement regime in the UK, and how other countries are dealing with the keeping of primates as pets. Participants agreed that the current situation is unacceptable, and it is hoped that the conference proceedings will be made available in the near future.

Born Free welcomes the fact that the EFRA report identifies deficiencies with existing legislation such as the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 in protecting the welfare of primates as pets—and that the report calls for a review of the Pet Animals Act 1951, which governs the licensing of pet shops and sellers, in light of the explosion of sales of pet animals online. The Born Free Foundation fully supports this long-overdue course of action.

Alongside other NGOs, Born Free is calling for a ban on the keeping of primates as pets, with provisions made for those primates already kept as pets to stay with their current owners—assuming their welfare is protected.

Roberts adds, “We are calling on the government to act on this issue. It is staggering that, in this day and age, it is legal to keep such complex and intelligent animals as pets in the UK, and that their sale is in some cases unregulated. No amount of Codes of Practice or research will address this. The compassionate, sensible, and precautionary approach would be for Government to move swiftly to introduce a ban on the keeping of these animals in private hands.”

The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. The Foundation rescues animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and gives them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles, and many more species in their natural habitats, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers, and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North 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 Travers. Born Free USA’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, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Media contact: Rodi Rosensweig, publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org, (203) 270-8929.

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