BVA reiterates call for a ban on the keeping of primates as pets

10 June 2014

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed recommendations that primate owners in England be required to register their pets but is still calling on the Government to introduce a ban.

BVA members considered the welfare concerns of such animals in response to an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) select committee inquiry on the issue earlier this year.

In its report, published today, the Efra committee concluded that a ban remains a possible way of addressing the welfare problems associated with private ownership of primates but recommended registration as an initial step.

BVA President Robin Hargreaves said:
“It’s encouraging that the committee has recognised the benefits of a ban in principle. Registration could provide a valuable first step in helping to identify exactly how many pet primates are kept in England and under what conditions.

“However, BVA continues to believe that very few people can provide the necessary resources to meet the complex welfare needs of these long-lived, intelligent, socially-complex animals. We therefore continue to favour a ban on the keeping of primates as private pets.”

As part of the consultation BVA considered the possibility that primate welfare could be improved through better regulation or licensing but members did not feel these options went far enough given the difficulties involved in meeting primates’ basic welfare needs.

The only exception to the ban recommended by BVA would be to allow individuals who are working in partnership with accredited zoos to breed primates for conservation purposes.

BVA welcomed some of the other recommendation in the report, particularly the proposed review of the Pet Animals Act 1951. The current act predates internet sales and was drafted at a time when there was less interest in private keeping and breeding of exotic animals.

BVA also welcomed the committee’s recognition that codes of practice need to be species specific to be effective and their recommendation that local authorities employ experts from zoo licensing or diploma holders in zoo and wildlife medicine to ensure any primates which are currently kept privately are cared for to a level equivalent with accredited zoo standards.

Further Information

  1. More information about the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee inquiry into primates as pets is available on the committee website.

BVA Media Office