A recent parliamentary debate on the keeping of primates as pets left campaigners disappointed as discussion fell short to protect animals. This debate held hope for progress on a ban on the keeping of monkeys and other primates as pets, a trade in which thousands of animals suffer.

Coco was kept as a pet in terrible conditions

The adjournment debate was proposed by Richard Drax MP who talked passionately about the horrors animals face in the trade.

“There is no doubt that these monkeys are suffering. Let us compare the circumstances in a cage in someone’s kitchen with what happens in the wild, where marmosets pair-bond for life and bring up extended, exuberant families… They are never alone and they live for 15 years. Tragically, barely weaned infants are handed over by unscrupulous breeders [to buyers]…. They may survive physically, but their captivity is nothing short of torture.”

However, despite the DEFRA Minister George Eustice stating the Government “understands that primates have special requirements”, discussion turned on how existing legislation, if correctly enforced, should be enough to protect primates.

Referring to ‘irresponsible ownership’ and the need to better communicate existing standards to potential owners, better training of local authorities to enforce regulations and upcoming improvements around animal licensing, the Minister argued that further legislation was not necessary to protect primates in the trade.

We are disappointed that there was no serious consideration of the proposal to ban keeping primates as pets.

Kept in people’s homes in living room cages, sheds and even caravans, intelligent wild animals like marmosets, capuchins and squirrel monkeys are living a life of misery. The needs of these forest animals can never be met in captivity and they never make good ‘pets’.

The trade and keeping of primates as pets in the UK lacks scrutiny and so the full extent of the trade is unknown. Estimates suggest that there may be around 9,000 non-human primates kept privately in the UK.

This debate followed a parliamentary reception that was hosted by a coalition of animal organisations, including Freedom for Animals, RSPCA, Four Paws, Wild Futures. Born Free and British Vet Association.

15 European countries have already introduced bans on keeping primates as pets, for either all or some species. It is vital that we ban the keeping of primates as pets in this country to prevent further suffering.

Freedom for Animals and our coalition partners will continue to campaign on this issue and push for a ban.

Help us #ProtectPrimates by signing and sharing the petition