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For Immediate Release: 07/11/14

Charla Nash, Born Free USA, Humane Society of the United States Speak out on Capitol Hill

Washington, D.C. -- Charla Nash, Born Free USA, and The Humane Society of the United States met with members of Congress yesterday to advocate for the passage of the Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2856/S. 1463). If passed, the Captive Primate Safety Act will ban the interstate commerce of monkeys, apes and other primates for the exotic pet trade.

On February 16, 2009, Charla Nash was viciously attacked by her boss’ 200 pound chimpanzee in Stamford, CT. Travis, the chimp ripped off Charla’s lips, nose, eyelids, hands and most of the boney structure in her mid-face. Eventually, doctors were forced to remove Charla’s eyes because of an infection passed on through the chimpanzee. In May 2011, Charla became one of the first people in the world to undergo a face transplant.

Nash wholeheartedly supports the Captive Primate Safety Act because it will prevent future tragedies by shutting down the interstate trade of the dangerous animals. Nearly half of the states prohibit private possession of some or all primate species as pets, but primates are easily obtained by anyone via the Internet, through out-of-state dealers and at auctions, making a federal law necessary to support state law enforcement efforts.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Charla’s tragedy was truly an ‘accident waiting to happen.’ Travis had bitten before and was well-known in the area. Keeping Travis in captivity was like playing Russian roulette. And for Charla Nash, when the trigger was pulled, there was a bullet waiting in the chamber.”

He continued, “For decades, Born Free USA has warned lawmakers and the public of the horrific dangers of keeping exotic animals as pets, and the epidemic of this selfishness and cruelty continues to grow.”

Born Free USA tracks primate incidents in an unprecedented exotic incidents database, which lists hundreds of other dangerous – and sometimes deadly – encounters between “pet” primates and people. And these are just the ones that are reported. Roberts adds, “We believe that many are happening every day around this country that we do not know about.” Among recent incidents, a six--year-old boy was bitten on his arm by a pet primate in St. Louis, MO, and a pet Javan macaque bit a woman caring for the animal in Paso Robles, CA, causing severe injuries on her arm and finger.

“These incidents, and Charla’s story, highlight a truth that cannot be ignored – these wild animals belong in the wild, not in someone’s home. This is an animal welfare AND a public safety issue, where animals and people are being severely injured and killed.”

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.

Photos available.

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

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