On Wednesday April 20th 2016, at 2.30 pm, Dr Alison Cronin, Director of Monkey World, presented a petition of 110,764 signatures to Number 10, Downing Street calling for the Government to ensure that monkeys kept as pets, in a legal British pet trade, are guaranteed a standard of care that meets their physical and psychological needs. Below you can see the evidence presented, as well as the petition text.

Monkey Pet Trade Petition Supporters at Downing St.

Monkey World’s Pet Trade Petition Being Handed in to No 10 by Alison Cronin, Peter Gabriel and Richard Drax

Peter Gabriel, Alison Cronin & Richard Drax with the Pet Trade Petition Outside Downing St.

The petition read:

“I would like to state my opposition to the LEGAL trade in primates as pets in Great Britain today. We believe that it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that any captive monkeys receive a standard of care that meets their behavioural and physical needs regardless of whether they are kept in private homes or pet shops. We are asking the British Government to issue guidance to local authorities, responsible for granting licences for these exotic pets, to use the same standard of duty of care as they would for primates kept in zoos or wildlife parks (the Zoo Licencing Act 1981). If a monkey is deserving of a certain standard of care in a zoo or wildlife park, by definition it is deserving of the same standard of care in a private home or pet shop. We would like our concerns addressed by the Government and Select Committee immediately.”

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  • Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset have collected 110, 764 signatures for this petition calling for WELFARE FOR WILDLIFE.
  • The Welfare for Wildlife – UK Primate Pet Petition has received the support of professional bodies, politicians, actors, musicians, and the British public.
  • Monkey World is well known for rescuing monkeys and apes from smuggling, abuse, or neglect from around the globe but legal trade in primates as pets in UK is our biggest, most chronic problem in more than 25 years.
  • Since 1989 Monkey World has rescued 100 monkeys from the pet trade – 50 of them are in the last 5 years showing that the trade is increasing a lot!
  • Most of the monkeys we rescue are common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) however over the years we have rescued a total of 16 different species of primate from the UK pet trade.
  • Most of the monkeys we rescue are kept in solitary confinement, in bird cages, in household sitting rooms with no access to companions of their own kind or to the outside world.
  • In the UK today it is potentially legal to own any species of primate, privately as a “pet”.
  • Most primates require a Dangerous Wild Animal’s Licence (DWA) in order to kept at home. This licence is issued by the local authority (i.e. a trading standards officer, dog warden, or any local authority officer that is tasked with the job) and mainly covers issues of health and safety to ensure the monkey cannot escape, with little or no conditions of welfare for the primate being kept.
  • 66 different species of monkey (all species of marmosets, tamarins, squirrel monkeys) are de-listed from the DWA and currently require NO licence or registration. In Britain today there are 66 species of primate that can be bought and sold over the counter like goldfish.
  • Monkeys require specialist care in terms of their environment, nutrition, daily husbandry, and veterinary care.
  • They are social animals that live in family groups. In particular, the marmoset and tamarin species pair bond for life and their offspring help in caring for their younger brothers and sisters. Keeping them in solitary confinement from their own kind is cruel, unnecessary, and creates mentally disturbed monkeys.
  • Many of the marmosets that we rescue are under a year old and are too young to be removed from their parents. Breeders and animal dealers do this so that the infants they take away from their parents are totally dependent on their human owners and they can breed more to sell. Young marmosets are normally dependant on their parents for the first full year of their lives.
  •  Monkey World has rescued individuals from the pet trade that have both physical and mental problems including:
    Physical problems – broken bones, nutritional bone disease (rickets), malnourishment, poor musculature, amputated tails, kidney and liver failure, soft tissue damage, cross breeding species.
    Mental problems – hyper aggressive, hyper alert, agoraphobics, poor/non-existent social skills, stereotypic behaviour, irrational behaviour.
  • Over the past 3 years Monkey World has built two new small monkey houses with outdoor enclosures, each of which can accommodate 15 – 20 individuals from the UK pet trade. The first small monkey complex was filled in 6 weeks of opening in 2013.
  • During 2014 we had a “waiting list” of concerned owners who wanted their monkeys to come to Monkey World for the specialist care they need.
  • In 2015 the second pet trade complex was opened to take another 15 – 20 individuals and this house was filled within 8 weeks of opening.
  • Monkey World is now full again and we have a waiting list of monkeys that need rescuing from the British pet trade.

Monkey World Welfare 4 Wildlife Video

Evidence On The UK Pet Trade Given To The EFRA Select Committee

Dr Alison Cronin’s written evidence on the UK Primate Pet Trade given to the EFRA Select Committee for their public enquiry, submitted January 2014.

Primates as Pets Petition







For many years Monkey World has been rescuing monkeys from the LEGAL pet trade in Britain.  These unfortunate monkeys have come to us often in terrible physical and mental condition having been kept in tiny, indoor cages, in solitary confinement.  Some of the worst conditions we have ever rescued primates from have been in the UK.  This trade is legal, however, and as long as the monkeys are born in captivity breeders are able to sell the offspring at high prices asking up to £1300 for a marmoset, £2700 for a squirrel monkey and up to £4000 for a capuchin monkey.

Sadly there is little in the way of legislation protecting the welfare of these wild animals.  Breeders often sell monkeys, telling unknowing buyers that the animals do not have any special needs and that they will only live for a couple of years.  Both statements are untrue, but without any legal standards of care the monkeys are left to suffer in terrible conditions.  You may remember Betty-Boo, the marmoset who lived in a birdcage for years in a Southampton sitting room, and Gismo the capuchin that lived in an Ipswich garden shed and due to poor conditions amputated part of his own tail.  More recently we have rescued Samantha and Fidget the squirrel monkeys from a caravan and a garden centre, while Uncas and Alice the cotton-top tamarins were bounced from owner to owner in a birdcage.  These monkeys were all LEGALLY approved pet monkeys in the UK.

Marmoset Betty Boo being kept as a pet

Sinbad the capuchin at a pet shop

Capuchin Terri at previous home

Pepe the capuchin was kept as a pet

Samantha the squirrel monkey, prior to confiscation

Uncas and Alice the cotton-top tamarins, prior to confiscation

We have been asking all our visitors and supporters to sign a petition telling the government that this is a terrible trade, causing suffering to hundreds of captive monkeys, and that you do not support the current legislation, and the response has been fantastic!

Jim and Alison met Biodiversity Minister, Jim Knight in 2005 to discuss the British pet trade in primates

Thank you to all those who have helped by signing our Primates as Pets Petition!  We are hopeful that your opinions will matter and changes will be made to the laws that govern the keeping of primates as pets in Britain.  We will keep you posted!