Target: Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
Goal: Make primate sale, ownership, and transfer illegal except by accredited organizations.
Virginia’s lax laws on exotic animal ownership are putting animals in danger, but a new bill may change that. Virginia residents can own primates of all kinds, including potentially dangerous species like chimpanzees and macaques. Many roadside zoos take advantage of these lax laws, allowing visitors to hold and pet dangerous animals like big cats and primates. These zoos are not created for helping animals—they’re moneymaking machines that routinely breed and sell infant exotic animals to private owners for profit.
This new bill will make the possession, sale, transfer, or breeding of any primate species illegal, except for primates housed in places accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, research facilities defined under the Animal Welfare Act, circuses, sanctuaries, veterinary hospitals, law enforcement, and temporary transfer through the state. This eliminates the dangers of roadside zoos, which are rarely accredited and a large source of the sale of primates to private citizens. Primates are wild animals and forcing them to live in private homes is a danger to the owner and animal alike—many Virginia residents have been injured by the animals they take into their home.
Passing this bill is an important step toward making Virginia a safer place for people and animals alike. These roadside zoos are known for valuing profits over animal welfare, and it’s time to change that. Ask Governor Terry McAuliffe to support this bill and make the unsafe and unethical ownership of primates illegal in Virginia.
Dear Governor McAuliffe,
Though Virginia has laws in place that make the sale and ownership of big cat species illegal, there is no such law currently in place for primates. A new bill, SB 1315, would fix that by making the sale, ownership, and transfer of all primates illegal except by accredited agencies.
Primates are highly intelligent animals, and keeping them in private homes is a danger to the animals and owners alike. Primates commonly live to be 20 to 40 years old and require more living space than even some zoos can provide. Even small breeds can scratch and bite, and larger breeds, like chimpanzees, are fully capable of killing a human.
Passing this bill would help regulate the unethical and potentially dangerous roadside zoo attractions, which rely on exotic animals to attract visitors. These zoos are rarely accredited and allow visitors to have first-hand contact with dangerous animals like tigers and bears. Some also breed and sell young primates to private owners, putting dangerous animals in the homes of people who are unlikely to give them proper care.
Please put your support behind SB 1315 to protect the lives of primates and people alike.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Frans de Waal via Wikimedia Commons