(June 17, 2008) WASHINGTON — The Humane Society Legislative Fund and The Humane Society of the United States praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passing an important bill today that would crack down on the trade in primates as exotic pets and protect the public from these dangerous wild animals. The House passed the bill by an overwhelming vote of 302 to 96, a more than three to one margin.
The Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2964), introduced by Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), prohibits the interstate and foreign 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 the animals' basic social, psychological and physical needs in captivity.
"Primates belong in the wild, not inside our basements and bedrooms. These highly social and intelligent creatures deserve better than to languish in small cages, with their teeth pulled out to make them less dangerous and suffering other abuses," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The Humane Society of the United States and president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
"We are grateful to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and Rep. Mark Kirk for leading on this important animal welfare and public safety bill, and to Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall and Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo for helping to shepherd it through to passage," Markarian said. "It's time for the Senate to pass this legislation and put an end to this dangerous monkey business."
Twenty states already prohibit private possession of these animals as pets, but primates are easily obtained over the Internet and through out-of-state dealers and auctions, making federal legislation necessary to complement the efforts of state law enforcement.
"This is a common-sense piece of legislation that will protect both primates and people --particularly children," Rep. Johnson said. "Similar laws already exist for lions, tigers and big cats, and this bill simply extends coverage to primates. A federal law such as this simplifies the legal landscape, as many states already have laws prohibiting the possession of primates, and it complements existing federal health regulations."
Rep. Kirk said, "It is inhumane to cage primates in private homes. Besides the animal cruelty concerns, the interstate movement of pet primates creates serious public health and safety risks. The Captive Primate Safety Act takes important steps to address these concerns."
Born Free USA has joined The HSUS and HSLF in pushing for the passage of this legislation.
"The global trade in wild animals, including those kept as pets, is a very dangerous enterprise indeed," said Adam Roberts, Born Free USA senior vice president. "We congratulate Congress for taking this important step in closing down the primate pet trade."
A companion 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.
Media contact: Pepper Ballard: 240-751-0232
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.