14 May 2021

Last week, Freedom for Animals revisited one of Manchester's biggest pet shops, who we exposed selling marmoset monkeys in October 2020. What we found was even more heartbreaking than our first visit.

The marmosets held in the two 3m2 wire cages continued to live lives of severe deprivation. A grim notice on their enclosure announced that not only were the baby monkeys there already sold, but so too were the next two litters; ripped from their mothers and forced to endure a whole lifetime of captivity and suffering.

Common marmosets are the most common primate pet, due in part to the fact that no licence is currently needed to buy one. They are native to the tropical rainforests of South America, a world away from a tiny wire cage in England.

Our investigator was shocked at what they saw:

I found the monkeys to be stressed, cramped and surrounded by loud noise from both people and other animals, causing further distress. Small children were continually trying to touch them and banging on cage doors as well.

In the Queen's Speech on Tuesday, government plans were announced to ban primate pets. The proposed Kept Animals Bill would make it illegal to keep or trade primate pets, although the detail of the bill is still unknown.

In the government's Action Plan for Animal Welfare, Defra stated its intensions to ban primate pets:

We will legislate to prohibit primates as pets and potentially other animals. Keepers that are able to provide welfare standards akin to those of licensed zoos will be able to keep their primates under a new licensing regime, subject to conditions and inspections. Ownership of these exotic animals with complex needs will be phased out for keepers unable to meet these standards. We are considering whether these restrictions should apply to other wild animals that are kept as pets.

Freedom for Animals welcomed the long awaited announcement.

Freedom for Animals' Director, Sam Threadgill, said:

The government's promise to ban primate pets during this Parliament is a result of the many years of hard campaigning work done by Freedom for Animals, grassroots activists and many other animal protection groups.

The proposals to introduce a new licence for private primate keepers who hold primates captive to 'zoo-level standards' is concerning, however. No primate should be forced to endure a lifetime of captivity. FFA will continue to push for a total ban on this cruel trade, one that is both timely and effective.

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