WASHINGTON (June 4, 2008) — The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund praised the U.S. House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans for today approving an important measure to crack down on the trade in pet primates and protect the public from these dangerous wild animals, as well as a bill to protect sharks from overfishing and the cruel and wasteful practice of finning.
The Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2964), introduced by Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), prohibits the interstate commerce in apes, monkeys and other primates for the exotic pet trade. These animals can inflict serious injuries and spread life-threatening disease, and the average pet owner cannot provide for their basic social, psychological and physical needs in captivity.
"Primates are highly social and intelligent creatures who shouldn't be traded over the Internet just to languish in small cages," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The HSUS. "Wild animals belong in the wild, not in our bedrooms and basements. It's time to end this dangerous monkey business."
Because many of these animals move in interstate commerce and are sold over the Internet, federal legislation is needed to complement the laws 20 states have prohibiting private possession of these animals as pets.
The HSUS and HSLF expressed thanks to Subcommittee Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and Ranking Member Henry Brown (R-S.C.) for their support in approving this important animal welfare and public safety measure.
A companion to the primate bill in the Senate (S. 1498), introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and David Vitter (R-La.), was approved by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works last July. Similar legislation passed the full Senate unanimously in the 109th Congress.
Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute has joined The HSUS and HSLF in pushing for the passage of the legislation. "The global trade in exotic animals — especially primates — as pets is a very dangerous enterprise indeed," noted Adam Roberts, senior vice president of Born Free USA. "We congratulate the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans for taking this important step in closing down the commercial wildlife trafficking in primates as pets."
In March, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, testified before the subcommittee in support of the bill, along with Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and United Nations Messenger of Peace.
The subcommittee also approved the Shark Conservation Act of 2008 (H.R. 5741), introduced by Chairwoman Bordallo, which will tighten U.S. regulations to protect sharks from finning and overfishing. Due to the high price and demand for shark fin soup, U.S. and foreign fleets profit from cutting fins off sharks and throwing the mutilated animals back into the ocean to die. The Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 banned this practice, but the method used for enforcement is complex and there is a lot of room for cheating. H.R. 5741 closes a loophole that currently permits a vessel to transport fins that were obtained illegally as long as the sharks were not finned aboard that vessel.
Media contact: Liz Borgstrom: 301-258-1455
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. On the web at www.hslf.org.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.