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Charity Investigates Monkeys Sold on UK High Street

22 August 2014

UK - A new report by the Born Free Foundation has uncovered major welfare concerns regarding the sale of primates in licensed pet shops in England.

With information gathered from Local Authorities under the Freedom of Information Act, Born Free identified 21 pet shops in England licensed to sell primates. - Some sources estimate that there may be more than 40 pet shops across the UK licensed to sell primates.

Following investigation of these shops, the report reveals that:

• Pet shops are willing to sell single primates, without at least verifying with the potential purchaser that the primate would be housed with others of the same species.
• Staff at one shop did not appear to know that a marmoset was a monkey.
• Pet shops were inconsistent in their advice regarding where and how to keep primates – for example, recommending that primates could be housed in a spare room or garage.
• There were concerns for the welfare of some primates kept in pet shops, with monkeys in one shop on sale in cages traditionally used to keep parrots.

Chris Draper, Born Free’s Programmes Manager for Captive Wild Animals/Science said: “Many people may be shocked to discover that it is still possible to walk into a high-street pet shop in England and buy a primate.

"Experts agree that primates are ill-suited for private ownership, where their behavioural, psychological, and environmental needs cannot be met, and consequently we would like to see an end to the keeping of primates as pets.”

In 2010, Defra published a Code of Practice on the private keeping of primates, as a guide to meeting the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

Born Free believes that their investigation indicates several areas where purchasing primates from pet shops may not meet the guidelines in the Code of Practice.

The Code is scheduled for review in 2015 but Born Free is convinced that it will never be able to guarantee the welfare of primates as pets, as a consequence of the incompatibility between the animals’ biology and needs and the domestic environment.

Adam Roberts, Acting CEO of the Born Free Foundation added: “There is an overwhelming and increasing body of evidence and opinion that primates do not fare well as pets.

"The UK Government needs to move swiftly to close the loopholes that allow the sale of primates to the general public.

"An increasing number of other countries have taken action on: for example, the keeping of primates as pets is banned in some EU countries such as the Netherlands and Hungary, while the United States Senate has started moving national legislation to end the pet primate trade."

Born Free is also calling on Government to review and update the Pet Animals Act, which deals with the sale of animals and the licensing of pet shops and has remained largely unchanged since 1951.

Born Free is convinced that no regulatory system can safeguard the welfare of primates when kept privately, and that a ban on the trade and private keeping of all species of primates should be introduced across the UK.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

ThePetSite News Desk

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