Monkey World’s Call For Welfare 4 Wildlife Answered As Government Introduces Bill To Protect Primates As Pets

Monkey World is proud to have worked with the government to bring in the new Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, introduced in parliament on 8th June 2021, which will ban the sale and trade of primates in the UK, and introduce legislation to protect those monkeys currently being kept as pets. Animal Welfare Minister Zac Goldsmith visited the park to announce the Bill and meet some of the victims of the pet trade.

To date, Monkey World has rescued 123 primates from the pet trade in the UK, and the trade has expanded rapidly in recent years, leaving the centre with a waiting list of over 150 monkeys waiting for a home. The centre cannot keep up with the demand for housing, having built two specialist houses at the park which were both filled within six weeks of completion. As Monkey World’s most chronic problem over its 34 year history, the team are pleased to finally see an end to the tragic trade of pet monkeys.

Many pet monkey owners are unaware of the dedicated care that primates require. As complex, social mammals, monkeys need companionship of their own kind, the correct diet, indoor and outdoor housing and specialist veterinary care- which the majority of the general public cannot provide. However antiquated laws on animal welfare mean that 85 species of monkey can be bought, kept and sold with no license or regulations whatsoever- as easily as a goldfish. All of the monkeys taken into Monkey World’s care suffer from psychological or physical problems, from aggression, to agoraphobia, and the all too common skeleton deformities and muscle wastage due to the incorrect diet and lack of sunshine.

Monkey World first met ministers to discuss the problem of pet primates in 1999, and has handed in two petitions to parliament since then, with over 160,000 signatures in total. The campaigns run by the rescue centre to stop this trade were supported by thousands of followers, who wrote letters to MPs, emails to unscrupulous breeders and dealers, and reported countless social media posts. In 2019, Monkey World Director, Dr Alison Cronin was approached by the Environment Minister and asked to advise on the matter, and has consulted with Defra and the government on the lead up to announcing the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.

Dr Cronin says:

“This government should be applauded for taking prompt and decisive action to protect primates that are kept as pets in Britain today. For over 30 years Monkey World has been campaigning for a change to the inadequate legislation governing the trade and keeping of primates as pets. The primate pet trade is out of control with monkeys kept in tiny bird cages, in solitary confinement, in sitting rooms around the country. Monkey World has been picking up the pieces by rescuing unwanted pets, assisting police with confiscations, and testifying in cruelty cases where pet monkeys have been abused or neglected in this selfish trade. We’re proud to have worked with this government to instigate a ban on keeping primates as pets and delighted to see them protected with the announcement of the Animal Welfare Bill.”

With the Bill in place, the trade of pet monkeys should be cut off immediately, and no new individuals be sold into a life of solitary confinement inside a bird cage. It is a momentous moment for animal welfare in the UK and Monkey World is pleased to have been at the forefront of this campaign.

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