75% of Brits believe that keeping monkeys as pets should be banned, joining the tens of thousands of petition signers, a cross-party group of MPs and leading veterinary and animal protection groups in calling for urgent action to end the keeping and trade of primates as pets
As regular readers will know I’m very passionate about primates and strongly believe they don’t make suitable pets so I’m really hoping that this petition will result in a change in the law. The following article about the petition is from the RSPCA.
Photo credit - RSPCA
The 55,000-strong #ProtectPrimates petition has been handed in to Defra to highlight the misery suffered by pet marmosets, capuchins, squirrel monkeys and other primates.
The petition hand-in coincides with Defra's ongoing work on animal activity licensing in England, which includes the licensing of pet vendors. The coalition of animal protection organisations are seizing this opportunity to call on Environment Secretary Michael Gove to bring an end to the sale of primates as pets under this secondary legislation.
The petition was organised by a coalition of veterinary and animal welfare organisations, including the RSPCA, Born Free, British Veterinary Association, Captive Animals Protection Society, Four Paws, One Kind and Wild Futures. Spearheaded by Sheryll Murray, Conservative MP for South East Cornwall (Wild Futures’ constituency) and Sue Hayman MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Defra), the petition was handed in at the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday 17 October, having attracted more than 55,000 signatures.
An estimated 5,000 primates are being kept as pets in the UK and rescue groups such as the RSPCA and Wild Futures receive approximately one call a week relating to the welfare of a monkey. Sadly these incidents are on the rise. In sixty percent of the cases the RSPCA investigated, primates were being kept on their own.
Eloise Shavelar, Senior Campaign Manager at the RSPCA said: “However well intentioned an owner may be, primates are not suitable as pets and can suffer terribly in domestic captivity. That is why we and other organisations are campaigning to bring about an end to this cruel trade.”
“Sadly our officers have seen situations where monkeys have been cooped up in bird cages, fed fast food and sugary drinks, deprived of friends of their own kind and suffering from disease. We fear there are hundreds more that are going through misery behind closed doors and we call for urgent action to be taken to stop even more primates ending up in these unnatural conditions.”
Rachel Hevesi, Director at Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary said: “The trend for keeping primates appears to be on the up - but, because of the specific needs of these animals, their level of suffering can be extreme. As well as dietary and environmental requirements, primates are highly social animals and they have extremely complex behavioural and social needs - but sadly in many cases they are being kept alone. All of the monkeys rescued by Wild Futures have physical or /and psychological problems due to their time as pets.”
Primates are intelligent, sentient animals which, like humans, can become depressed without adequate stimulation. As a result, they may self-mutilate, pluck out their own hair, or display behaviour such as rocking and self-hugging - all potential signs of stress or traumatic experiences. Poor diet and lack of access to sunlight leads to the painful condition of Metabolic Bone Disease, known as rickets in humans, which is regularly seen in pet primates coming into care.
Like humans, primates rely on their mothers, often until adulthood and beyond. Yet they can be taken from them at just a few weeks old to be hand-reared by humans, a distressing and cruel practice. This is no replacement for their mother’s care, and this can cause behavioural issues throughout their lives.
Primates need a spacious and enriched environment that challenges their intelligent brains and allows for them to behave like primates should. Often primates are kept in entirely inappropriate housing such as indoor parrot cages, aviaries and sheds. These types of environments can’t provide for their complex physical and social needs.
Sue Hayman MP said: "Monkeys are simply not suitable pets and animal rescue charities are having to pick up the burden that soon follows once owners realise they can't meet the needs of their monkey or they are having to step in and rescue them from suffering. Fifteen European countries have already introduced a ban, for either all or some species. It’s high time the UK lived up to its credentials as an animal-loving nation and put an end to the trade in pet primates."
Sheryll Murray MP said: "One of the first visits I ever made as an MP was to Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary in my South East Cornwall constituency in 2010. I learnt about the terrible life many monkeys suffer when kept as pets. Since then I have been raising this important issue through Parliament and to the government Ministers. I fully support this petition and hope we can at last end keeping monkeys as pets."
The #ProtectPrimates campaign launched in September 2015 at: www.protectprimates.org.uk
If you see an animal you have concerns about please call the RSPCA's emergency line on 0300 1234 999.