Blumenauer, Fitzpatrick Reintroduce Captive Primate Bill

June 26, 2015
Press Release

Bipartisan bill will prohibit interstate commerce in monkeys, apes and other primates

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, this week introduced the bipartisan Captive Primate Safety Act [H.R. 2920]. The legislation amends the Lacey Act, which enforces civil and criminal penalties for the illegal trade of animals and plants, to now prohibit interstate commerce in monkeys, apes, and other primates for the exotic pet trade.

“Primates are wild animals, and they do not belong in our homes. Time and again we have seen that it is dangerous for humans and cruel to the animals. In the 21st century, there is no place for keeping primates as pets,” said Blumenauer. “This legislation will protect our families and ensure the humane treatment of these animals. We will continue to gather support for this bill and educate as many members as we can until it passes and this unacceptable practice is ended.”

“Keeping primates as household pets is both inhumane to animals and dangerous to humans.  The dangers of keeping exotic ‘pets’ are illustrated by the more than 200 injuries to people by primates since 1999 and their potential to be a threat to public health,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s for these reasons that I was proud to re-introduce the Captive Primate Safety Act along with my friend and colleague Congressman Blumenauer.”

About half of states already prohibit private possession of some or all primate species as pets, but primates are easily obtained via the Internet and through out-of-state dealers and auctions, making a federal law necessary to support the efforts of state law enforcement and to promote global conservation efforts.

H.R. 2920 is endorsed by a number of animal welfare organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States and Born Free USA.

"Until Congress takes action, dangerous primates will continue to be sold over the Internet and this trafficking will put communities at risk across the country. These highly social and intelligent creatures deserve better than to languish in bedrooms and basements,” said Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer of The Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful to Congressmen Fitzpatrick and Blumenauer for working to pass this urgently needed public safety and animal welfare measure.”

“The captive primate trade involves enormous animal suffering and threats to human safety. These innocent animals are often kept isolated in small cages and physically mutilated to ‘tame’ them. They pose an unnecessary risk to community members, children, and law enforcement officers,"said Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA. "There is simply no excuse for keeping nonhuman primates as pets. Wildlife belongs in the wild."

Facts:

  • Since 1990, more than 270 people— including 86 children—have been injured by captive primates, and many more incidents likely went unreported. Primates also pose disease risks, including transmission of tuberculosis and herpes-B virus.
  • In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Captive Wildlife Safety Act into law to prohibit interstate commerce of lions, tigers, and other big cats as pets. Primates face similar inhumane treatment and pose similar threats to public health and safety and should be added to the list of species prohibited in commercial trade.
  • The Captive Primate Safety Act is narrowly crafted to target the commerce in and private possession of primates, and would not impact zoos, universities or wildlife sanctuaries.
  • The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society of Primatologists, and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians oppose the private possession of primates.

About the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC):

Formed in 2009, the CAPC, through non-partisan forums and briefings, seeks to highlight important issues affecting animals. The CAPC also tracks the progress of relevant legislation, provides members of Congress with credible information, and strives to build broad coalitions in support of common-sense, humane animal welfare laws and policies. It has over 120 bipartisan members and is co-chaired by Representatives Mike Fitzpatrick and Earl Blumenauer. Earlier in the 114th Congress, Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick also introduced H.R. 746, the AWARE Act, to put a stop to animal abuse at federal agricultural research facilities.

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