US Congress urged by victim of horrific attack to pass bill banning trade in primates11/07/2014 08:47:15
A Captive Primate Safety Act is currently being considered by the US Congress. If passed, the Act will ban the interstate commerce of monkeys, apes and other primates for the exotic pet trade.
Currently, there is a patchwork of state laws regarding “pet” primates.
Twenty-two states ban private possession of primates and three states have a partial ban. Eleven states require a licence or permit for some or all primates, and 14 states allow primates as pets, with virtually no oversight.
However, primates are easily obtained via the Internet and through out-of-state dealers and auctions, making federal legislation necessary to support the efforts of state law enforcement.
Charla Nash of Born Free USA, together with members of The Humane Society of the United States, recently met with members of Congress to advocate the passing of the bill.
The House of Representatives supported the bill in 2009 but it has yet to be passed by the Senate.
This year it has been reintroduced and is currently is pending in both the Senate and House.
Charla’s interest is a personal as well as professional one. In February 2009, she went to the aid of her neighbour when her 200lb pet chimpanzee escaped.
The chimp, named Travis, had a history of violent behaviour and attacked Charla, inflicting devastating injuries. She lost her hands and most of the bony structure in her mid-face – including her nose, eyes, lips, and cheekbones. She also suffered significant brain trauma.
Eventually, doctors were forced to remove her 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.
Commenting on her appeal to Congress, Adam M Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Wildlife Extra columnist, said: “Charla’s story highlights 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.
“Charla Nash represents tragedy -- but also resilience. She has come to Capitol Hill this week to tell her story and to appeal to legislators, the public, and the media to make sure it never happens again to a neighbour, friend, child, or passer-by.”
In 2003, Born Free USA helped pass the Captive Wildlife Safety Act to stop the trade in big cats as pets, including hybrids. This proposed bill will extend those restrictions to cover primates as well.
“For decades, Born Free USA has warned lawmakers and the public of the horrific dangers of keeping exotic animals as pets,” said Adam Roberts. “And the epidemic of this selfishness and cruelty continues to grow.
“Since 2003, we have been working hard to enhance that law by adding primates to the list of prohibited species in the exotic pet trade.
“Charla’s is a truth delivered from harsh experience, and from a powerful voice that will not be silenced.
"We are proud to support Charla and grateful that she is helping us to put an end to this horror.”