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Blumenthal, Blumenauer, & Fitzpatrick Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Ban Private Possession of Primates

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced legislation to better protect monkeys, apes, and other primates as well as strengthening public safety. The Captive Primate Safety Act prohibits interstate commerce and private ownership of primates, both bolstering the well-being of these animals and strengthening public safety.

“This measure protects both primates and people. Wild animals belong in the wild, not shackled and mistreated in someone’s backyard. Humans often are injured by wild animals kept as pets because their deeply ingrained instincts resist domestication, causing them to be dangerously unpredictable pets. The Captive Primate Safety Act is about safety, but also basic humane behavior— ending exploitation of these human-like, highly intelligent, social animals,” said Blumenthal.

“Primates are not pets. Allowing these animals to be kept in private captivity is not just cruel. It puts our communities at tremendous risk as we have seen in horrific cases in Oregon and elsewhere. Enacting this bipartisan, common-sense proposal is long overdue to protect both primates and the public,” said Blumenauer.

“For far too long primates have been mistreated, exploited, and abused while also carrying deadly diseases which may endanger humans” said Fitzpatrick. “As Co-Chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, I remain committed in working across the aisle to promote animal welfare, and I am proud to lead this critical bipartisan and bicameral legislation to prohibit the unlicensed, private possession of primates and put animal safety first.”

The Captive Primate Safety Act is co-sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Joe Neguse (D-CO).

The legislation is endorsed by a number of organizations, including Animal Welfare Institute, Friends of Animals, Born Free USA, Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, American Anti-Vivisection Society, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Humane Society of Louisiana, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Four Paws USA, Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance, Black Pine Animal Sanctuary, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue, Primarily Primates, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Small and Rural Law Enforcement Executives Association, National Sheriffs Association, Animal Cruelty and Abuse Committee, and National Animal Care and Control Association.

“Primates are wild animals, not pets or playthings” said Susan Millward, Animal Welfare Institute’s CEO and executive director. “All too often, owners faced with the reality of an aggressive, active animal in their home will mutilate and isolate primates in an attempt to ‘tame’ them. As a result, these animals suffer permanent physical and mental trauma. We’re grateful to Senator Blumenthal and Representatives Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick for reintroducing the Captive Primate Safety Act to protect primates from this horrifying mistreatment."

“We know all too well that primates, who are highly social and intelligent, should be left in the wild and never be exploited as pets—a staggering half of our approximately 200 primates at Primarily Primates are former pets,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, which has managed Primarily Primates sanctuary since 2007.  “Most of our spider monkey and capuchins are ex-pets, as well as a large percentage of our lemurs. Even a significant number of our macaques, chimps and other old-world primates are former pets who were shipped off to research once they became too ‘aggressive’ to care for. There is no good argument for delaying the Captive Primate Safety Act. We’re grateful to Sen. Blumenthal and Reps. Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick for introducing this bill.”

“The simple truth is all non-human primates are wild animals. In their natural environments, most species live in complex, multigenerational, social hierarchies. And yet, the cruel pet trade subjects these intelligent, sensitive animals to lives of isolation, restriction, and complete disconnect from their own kind. Even with the best of intentions, holding primates captive causes health and developmental issues, as well as serious emotional and psychological harm. At our primate sanctuary, we have witnessed this firsthand in the many monkeys who came to us after years of suffering and neglect as ‘pets’ in private homes. Wild animals are unable to be domesticated. Primates will also always be a risk to public safety – demonstrated by countless tragic incidents. It is time for a federal solution to protect both primates and people. We’re grateful to Sen. Blumenthal and Reps. Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick for introducing such a solution with the Captive Primate Safety Act," said Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA.

Full text of the legislation can be found here.