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Great news for primates! The Captive Primate Safety Act, a bill will prohibit interstate commerce in monkeys, apes, and other primates, has finally been introduced into the U.S. Senate. The Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, the Jane Goodall InstituteAmerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and International Fund for Animal Welfare were all greatly influential in helping this legislation come to the Senate.

There are a number of issues surrounding the practice of keeping captive primates and other exotic animals as pets. From a practical stand-point, captive primates are wild animals that have been removed from their native habitats and sold into the exotic pet trade. Some pet primates have been born into captivity, but regardless of how they found themselves in the pet trade, they clearly do not belong there.

Not only is keeping primates as domestic animals cruel to the primate, but it also presents a large public health risk. In the past year alone, at least six incidents involving captive primate attacks have been reported. While most of these incidents involved minor bites, some proved fatal to the primate. We have also learned from the story of Charla Nash, the reality of the danger of captive primates. After being brutally attacked by a disgruntled chimpanzee, Nash has become an avid advocate for the Captive Primate Safety Act.

As Jeff Flocken the North America regional director of IFAW said in a statement to the press, “Keeping a great ape or other primate as a pet is a dangerous practice equivalent to keeping a ticking time bomb. At the detriment of animal welfare, public safety and common-sense, these intelligent and highly dangerous animals are routinely exploited by the exotic pet trade.”

The exotic pet trade is unnecessary and can easily be ended if Congress moves to pass this act for good. Since the bill has been passed in the Senate, all that is left is for Congress to sign off and have the bill go into motion this year.

Image source: Ikiwaner/Wikimedia Commons