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Time to ban monkeys from UK pet trade

05/03/2013 16:01:52

A cage that a monkey was kept in as a pet!

Why is it still legal to import monkeys as pets in the UK?
March 2013. Wild Futures, the leading primate charity that runs The Monkey Sanctuary in Cornwall, the only GFAS-accredited primate sanctuary in Europe, was very grateful last week when Michaela Strachan took some time out during her present tour (The Really Wild Adventures) to find out about the charity's current campaign to end the primate pet trade.

5000 primates privately owned in the UK!
Wild Futures has been campaigning heavily to end the primate pet trade due to it being a huge problem in the UK and legislation not being enforced. Wild Futures along with the RSPCA estimate that there are at least 5,000 privately owned primates in the UK.

Wild Futures was instrumental in the creation of Defra's Code of Practice for the Welfare of Privately Kept Non-Human Primates, which came into force in 2010. The Code is a guide to the steps that must be taken by primate keepers in order to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. Under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (DWAA) 1976, owners of most primate species must obtain a licence from their local authority. However, non-compliance with the DWAA is rife, and there is little awareness or consideration of the Code on the part of keepers or the relevant authorities. Subsequently, the situation is mess, with monkeys suffering in inappropriate environments all around the UK. Wild Futures believes that the only enforceable option is to ban the trade in primates as pets.

One of the monkeys at the sanctuary has to use his leg to support his left arm.

One of the monkeys at the sanctuary has to use his leg to support his left arm.

Wild Futures' Monkey Sanctuary is home to many victims of the primate pet trade. Most of the rescued monkeys at the Sanctuary suffer either physically or mentally (or both) as a result of their previous lives. Grips, a capuchin monkey, is one of several monkeys who are diabetic as a result of being fed inappropriate diets as pets, and who require special care and daily medication. Other monkeys, such as Chanel, display signs of psychological damage such as constant clapping, head rocking and even self-harming.

Brooke Aldrich, Campaigns Manager of Wild Futures states: "We have been gathering evidence for quite some time now. It is clear that current UK legislation is failing these socially complex and highly intelligent animals. The situation is tragic, especially in light of the UK's reputation as a nation of animal lovers. We are sure that the best and only option is to ban the primate pet trade in the UK."

Upon learning about the situation, Michaela stated: "I am shocked at how big the monkey pet trade is in the UK. 5,000 monkeys kept as pets! I had no idea there were that many. Monkeys are not domesticated like dogs and cats; they simply don't make good pets. People in this country should know better. When I was a child I adored monkeys and the idea of having one as a pet was a constant fantasy. But it's as ridiculous as having a pet lion or a pet elephant. As an adult it's just wrong to indulge that childhood fantasy, however much we think we love that animal. As the saying goes, if you love something set it free, well if you love monkeys let them stay free, where they belong, in the wild."'

The Monkey Sanctuary opened its doors to visitors on Saturday 2nd March for 2013.

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