The U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to ban interstate trade of primates, following last week’s attack of a woman in Connecticut by a chimpanzee who’d been used in commercials and kept as a household pet. The Captive Primate Safety Act would not outlaw owning chimpanzees and other [primates] [MSNBC], but acquiring them would become more difficult. The legislation, which passed 323 to 95, would prohibit interstate sale or purchase of monkeys and apes, which include chimpanzees and orangutans, as well as marmosets and lemurs [Reuters].
The legislation applies only to the sale of primates as pets, and would have no impact on zoos or researchers. There may be as many as 15,000 primate pets in the United States. Only 20 states prohibit keeping them as pets, and there is no federal law against it [The New York Times]. The Humane Society of the United States has said that over the past four years there were more than 40 incidents involving primates escaping and injuring humans [Reuters].
After the vote, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, co-sponsor of the bill, said, “Primates are wild animals and should not be regularly transported around the United States and integrated into our communities or our households. Today we have taken an important step toward the welfare of humans and animals” [Los Angeles Times].
Similar legislation was passed in the House last year but it then died in the Senate; supporters hope a Senate bill will pass this time around. It is expected to be introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and David Vitter (R-La.) later this year.
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Image: Flickr / belgianchocolate