BVA and animal welfare groups launch petition to ban primates as pets

24 September 2015

It is estimated thousands of primates are being kept as pets in the UK and, according to a new campaign launching today, rescue groups such as the RSPCA and Wild Futures receive approximately one call every week relating to the welfare of a monkey.

Marmosets, capuchins and squirrel monkeys are just some of the primates being kept as pets, suffering in unnatural and unsupportive environments.

BVA and a coalition of charities including The Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society, Four Paws, OneKind, the RSPCA and Wild Futures believe the cases of suffering they encounter on a frequent basis are just the tip of the iceberg and are calling on the governments across the UK to introduce regulations that will end the keeping and trading of these complex creatures as pets. 

John Blackwell, BVA President, said, “Some people buy primates as fashionable ‘accessories’ but these long-lived, intelligent, socially-complex animals are not like dogs or cats and are extraordinarily difficult to properly care for. Animal welfare is a priority for vets and BVA has significant concerns as to whether the welfare needs of primates can be met when kept privately as pets: we can think of no circumstances where a primate would benefit from being kept in this way. We are urging the Governments in the UK to offer the clarity members of the public need and introduce a ban on private pet-ownership of primates.”

15 European countries have already introduced a ban on keeping primates as pets, of either all or some species. BVA is calling on the governments of England, Northern Ireland and Wales to follow this lead and working with the Scottish government on their review of the trade and importations of exotic animals for the pet trade in Scotland.

Director at Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary Rachel Hevesi said, “We witness the effects of this cruel and unnecessary trade on a daily basis. Every primate that we have rescued has arrived with physical and/or psychological damage. It can take years of intensive care for them to recover. It is inspiring to see such positive changes, but heartbreaking to see the struggle along the way. The trend for keeping primates is on the up - but because of the specific needs of these animals their level of suffering is extreme.”

Please sign the petition to end the keeping and trade of primates as pets. You can also keep up to date with the campaign on Twitter using #ProtectPrimates

Facts about pet primates in the UK

  • Primates need to live in social groups and in 60% of the UK cases investigated by the RSPCA animals were being kept alone in isolation
  • Usually sold as infants, pet primates suffer emotional damage and are deprived of essential social learning opportunities that continue to cause problems. Even if an owner tries to pair their primate up with another at a later date they may not get along and the damage has already been done.
  • The most common monkey that both Wild Futures and the RSPCA receives calls about is the marmoset monkey, one of the smallest monkeys in the world that generally lives for around 20 years.

BVA Media Office