Primates Belong in the Wild, Not Our Homes

Images from commercials, television and movies of chimpanzees, orangutans and other nonhuman primates dressed in cute clothes and living with human families make it seem as if it is perfectly normal to keep them as “pets.” But this is pure fantasy. Although our close relatives share much of our DNA and are extremely intelligent, they have instincts and needs that are not adaptable to living in our homes.

Primates are popular pets—animal welfare groups estimate there are 15,000 in private hands in the United States. Yet forcing wild animals to behave as pets creates serious animal welfare and human safety issues. As infants, may seem endearing, compliant, bundles of fur. But as they mature, they can become aggressive and unmanageable.

On March 3, a California man was mauled and his wife was injured by two chimpanzees. The couple was visiting their former pet at an exotic animal facility when two other chimpanzees escaped and attacked. The animals were shot and killed. Some primates can also harbor deadly diseases, like herpes B, which can be passed on to humans if they get bitten or scratched.

Soon after the attack in California, U.S. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Rob Simmons (R-CT) introduced The Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 1329) in Congress to prohibit monkeys, marmosets, lemurs, chimpanzees, orangutans and other nonhuman primates from being shipped across state lines for the pet trade. "When we allow nonhuman primates to be kept as pets in our backyards, we are putting ourselves and our families at risk," said Rep. Johnson, a registered nurse. "These animals are by their very nature, wild and unpredictable. Children can often be injured by these animals, and we can't allow that to happen." Rep. Simmons noted, "Nonhuman primates can carry life-threatening diseases, and that puts us all in danger. By banning the interstate commerce of these animals destined for the pet trade, we are keeping our safety, and their safety, in mind."

Please take action now and ask your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor The Captive Primate Safety Act.

» Read more about the dangers of keeping primates as pets.

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