From Urban Jungle to Dorset Sanctuary…
The legal UK pet trade in primates has reached such an overwhelming level that the problem is now spilling out onto the streets of London. On Sunday 6th May 2018, the director of Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre, Dr Alison Cronin, was called upon to rescue a female marmoset monkey who was leaping along scaffolding poles in inner city London. The Geoffroy’s marmoset was herded into the lobby of a tower block, and concerned locals in Tower Hamlet managed to grab the monkey and secure her in a reptile vivarium until Monkey World came to the rescue.
The current laws in the UK allow over 80 species of monkey to be kept legally with no license, register, or need to check the suitability of their living arrangements & owners. These primates, (which include all species of squirrel monkey, night monkey, titi monkey and all marmosets and tamarins) can be bought as easily as goldfish, often by well-meaning animal lovers from unscrupulous breeders.
Not knowing the specialist diets, social needs and appropriate environments these primates require, owners are unwittingly neglecting the monkeys, and Monkey World have rescued 115 primates from private homes. Worryingly, the trade is on the rise, with over half of these rescues taking place in the last 5 years. Many suffer from rickets, aggression and mobility issues, often from being kept alone in bird cages, with no outside access and a diet of table scraps. As an international rescue centre, working with governments around the world to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild, it is tragic that the home-grown legal UK pet trade is the largest ongoing problem Monkey World faces.
Antiquated animal laws are failing to protect the primates from cruelty or neglect, and instead only occasionally lead to prosecution once it has occurred. Dr Cronin, with support from musician Peter Gabriel and MP Richard Drax handed a petition of over 110,000 signatures to Downing St requesting a change in the law to protect the victims of the pet trade. This was dismissed by Minster of Environment, Food and Rural affairs, MP George Eustice, who during a parliament adjournment debate of the issue stated he believes the current laws are doing their jobs:
“We consider that the standards set out in the primate code of practice provide primates with the same level of welfare protection as those in zoos”
The Minister was proved wrong by a Brazilian monkey running loose on the streets of London. The female numbers 116 in a long list of primates rescued from the UK pet trade by Monkey World. The Animal Welfare Act, the Primate Code of Practice, and the Pet Animals Act are failing to protect pet primates and the victims are piling up, spilling out onto the street and leaving Monkey World to mop up the mess.