National group calls for state legislation banning primates as pets
Springfield, IL — A pet monkey who last week attacked a Chicago girl has safely arrived at the Animal Protection Institute (API) Primate Sanctuary in Texas. The monkey, a rhesus macaque, apparently escaped from his cage and bit a 14-year-old girl severely enough that she was admitted to the hospital.
API, a national animal advocacy organization based in Sacramento, CA, recently completed a nationwide investigation into the keeping of dangerous wild animals, including primates, as pets. API documented exotic pets kept in unnatural and poor conditions, irresponsible owners who often put the public and themselves at risk, and a large number of attacks and injuries from exotic animals that usually go unreported.
One disturbing spectacle, known as a “Primate Picnic,” was filmed in Illinois. At the event, primate owners gathered to display their monkeys dressed up in children’s clothes and paraded them around in strollers and harnesses, many in a distressed state.
“Keeping nonhuman primates as ‘pets’ is cruel. It results in severe emotional and behavioral problems which lead to dysfunctional behavior; often including attacks on people which cause injury, sometimes severe,” says Dr. Ned Buyukmihci, veterinarian and co-director of the API Primate Sanctuary.
API is a national leader in introducing and passing legislation prohibiting the ownership of dangerous exotic animals and today sent a letter to the Governor of Illinois asking him to add nonhuman primates to the list of dangerous animals that have been banned in the state for over 20 years, including tigers, bears, wolves and poisonous reptiles.
“This tragic incident is a prime example of why primates should not be kept as pets in Illinois and why the legislature should act to ban the practice and join numerous other states who have already done so,” says Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Director of Legal and Government Affairs for API. “Luckily, this story has a happy ending for this particular monkey, but all over the U.S. both monkeys and people are being put in unnecessary danger by this highly irresponsible practice.”
The API Primate Sanctuary is one of only a few primate sanctuaries in the United States where the majority of the residents live in open-topped, free-ranging 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. API will provide rehabilitation and lifelong care for its new arrival. For a rhesus macaque this could be up to 30 years.
The Animal Protection Institute is a national non-profit working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation and public education. API is a nationwide leader in passing legislation regarding the possession of dangerous exotic animals as pets. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.
The API Primate Sanctuary is currently home to more than 400 primates. To “adopt” a primate or find out more about life at the Sanctuary, visit www.api4primates.org.
DVD b-roll footage of the Sanctuary and Illinois Primate Picnic and still photos of the Chicago monkey are available; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zibby Wilder, the Animal Protection Institute, 916-447-3085 x205