With today marking Chinese new year 2016 – the year of the monkey – animal health/welfare and veterinary organisations are reiterating their call for a ban on the keeping and trading of thousands of primates as pets.

squirrel monkeys
Squirrel monkeys are still kept as pets in the UK, although keeping a primate in a domestic setting is an offence. Image: Sean K / Fotolia.

An estimated 5,000 primates – such as marmosets and squirrel monkeys – are kept as pets in the UK, despite Defra’s view keeping a primate in a domestic setting is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

A lucky year for primates?

The year of the monkey is believed to be unlucky for those born in a “monkey” year; however, the coalition of organisations, which includes the BVA, RSPCA, Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals Protection Society, Four Paws, OneKind and Wild Futures, will be taking every opportunity to ensure 2016 is a lucky year for primates.

BVA president Sean Wensley said: “Primates are long living, intelligent and socially complex animals whose needs and welfare requirements are extraordinarily difficult to meet in captivity and when kept privately as pets.

“For the BVA, it would be fitting for governments to recognise and protect the well-being of monkeys during the year of the monkey and we will continue to call for change to protect the welfare of these intelligent animals by introducing a ban on the private pet ownership and trade of primates.”

Reviewing the situation

A total of 15 European countries have already introduced a ban on the keeping of all or some species of primate as pets.

Defra recently announced it will review its Code of Practice for the Welfare of Privately Kept Non-Human Primates in 2016 and the coalition hopes to use this opportunity to move towards the prohibition of keeping primates as pets in England.

To add your voice and help protect primates, sign the coalition’s petition at www.protectprimates.org

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