Target: U.S. Representatives Michael G. Fitzpatrick and Earl Blumenauer
Goal: Applaud efforts to prohibit interstate commerce in monkeys, apes and other primates for the exotic pet trade
U.S. Representatives Fitzpatrick and Blumenauer recently introduced the Captive Primate Safety Act. This bill amends the Lacey Act to prohibit interstate commerce in monkeys, apes and other primates for the exotic pet trade. The Lacy Act prohibits the “importation, exportation, transportation, and sale, receipt, acquisition, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce, of any live animal of any prohibited wildlife species, and for other purposes.” The Captive Primate Safety Act would treat primates as a prohibited wildlife species. In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Captive Wildlife Safety Act into law to prohibit interstate commerce of lions, tigers, and other big cats as pets. Primates face similar inhumane treatment and pose similar threats to public health and safety and should be added to the list of species prohibited in commercial trade. The Captive Primate Safety Act is narrowly crafted to target the commerce in and private possession of primates, and would not impact zoos, universities or wildlife sanctuaries.
Rep. Fitzpatrick said: “Keeping primates as household pets is both inhumane to animals and dangerous to humans. The dangers of keeping exotic ‘pets’ are illustrated by the more than 200 injuries to people by primates since 1999 and their potential to be a threat to public health. It’s for these reasons that I was proud to re-introduce the Captive Primate Safety Act along with my colleague Congressman Blumenauer—a common-sense reform that will keep primates out of the hands of private citizens.”
Representative Fitzpatrick is right. Captive wildlife is dangerous. Many exotic pet owners have been harmed by their pets. Many innocent passersby have also been harmed. In 2013, a Texas police officer attacked by a capuchin monkey as he handed a speeding ticket through an open truck window, an Arkansas police officer was bitten by a pet macaque monkey who escaped from a veterinary clinic, a pet patas monkey escaped through a car sunroof and ran loose for 30 minutes on a college campus in Virginia, a six-year-old Illinois boy was bitten by a pet java macaque at a public park, a small monkey running loose in an Ohio neighborhood was shot and killed by a state wildlife officer after being deemed a public health and safety risk, and a two-year-old Florida girl and her mother were attacked by two pet lemurs who escaped and ran wild through a Florida neighborhood, charging at neighbors and police.
Rep. Blumenauer said: “Allowing primates to be held as pets for individuals can result in nothing but tragedy. Time and again we have seen that it is dangerous and unhealthy for both humans and captive primates and is cruel to the animals. In the 21st Century, there is no place for keeping primates as pets. This legislation will protect our families, and ensure the humane treatment of these animals. We will continue to gather support for this bill and educate as many members as we can until it passes and this unacceptable practice is ended.”
Monkeys bred to be pets live a difficult early life. Infant monkeys used for the pet trade are typically forcibly removed from their mothers shortly after birth. As babies, they are in high demand, but people quickly discover that primates are extremely active, messy, destructive and have a tendency to bite. Ultimately, with owners weary of attacks on people and destruction to the home, pet monkeys are often left to a life of increasing neglect.
The Captive Primate Safety Act was the right move for primates. It will help make primates bred to be pets safer, as well as the public. Commend U.S. Representatives Michael G. Fitzpatrick and Earl Blumenauer for introducing the Captive Primate Safety Act.
Dear Representatives Fitzpatrick and Blumenauer,
Thank you for introducing the Captive Primate Safety Act. Whereas the Lacey Act does a good job of preventing the exploitation and illegal purchase of wildlife, it was in need of a wording specific to primates. The Captive Primate Safety Act, by adding nonhuman primates to that list of wildlife, does that.
Primates can be very dangerous to humans, as well as humans being dangerous to primates. Monkeys bred for the pet trade are treated terribly at a young age, before being purchased by a member of the public who could potentially be hurt or have another person be hurt by the monkey. The Captive Primate Safety Act will prevent all of these problems, and I commend you for introducing it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Rob via Wikimedia Commons