Leading vets have called on the Government to ban primates being kept as pets, claiming it would be “almost impossible” for private owners to meet the animals’ welfare needs.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) issued its response to an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into keeping primates on January 14, 2014.

BVA president Robin Hargreaves said: “We appreciate many people who keep primates privately care deeply for their pets and do their utmost to provide for them appropriately. However, primates are long-lived, intelligent, socially complex animals and we can think of no circumstances where they would benefit from being kept as a pet.
“Primates cannot be kept on their own. They need at least one companion in order to express natural behaviour. They require both an indoor and outdoor enclosure to ensure adequate exercise and exposure to UV light, and each species has specific dietary requirements.
“These animals are not domesticated companions like dogs and cats or even livestock, and are extraordinarily difficult to care for properly. Very few people can provide the necessary resources to meet their welfare needs. We therefore favour a ban on the keeping of primates as private pets.”

However, BVA believes an exception should be made for those keeping primates for conservation or zoological reasons.

“BVA also recognises a ban could not be enforced immediately and effective plans, including an appropriate transition period, would be needed to secure suitable accommodation for existing pet primates,” a spokesman added.

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