Wild Welfare was recently invited to take part in a consultation regarding the keeping of primates as pets across England. The proposed new standard for privately kept primates aims to support a new licensing scheme under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
As leading experts in the animal welfare field, Wild Welfare was invited to take part in a stakeholder working group, where we suggested significant changes to the draft standards in order to make them more robust and enforceable. Due to the numerous animal welfare issues associated with people keeping species such as lemurs, marmosets and capuchin monkeys as household pets, a phasing out process followed by an eventual ban on private keeping has been proposed as the ideal outcome, however, the international animal welfare organization welcomes the high standards of welfare proposed.
Throughout the consultation process, the Wild Welfare team, many of whom have specific experience with primate management, commented on the standard before it was sent for public consultation. Suggestions included an increase in overall space provided for each primate, a recommendation against breeding without conservation justification, and emphasizing the importance of record keeping and staff training.
The charity’s involvement with the consultation was part of a wider drive to support the Kept Animals Bill in the UK which was aiming to improve animal welfare standards before being scrapped in June of this year. Whilst this was a disappointing outcome, the charity has welcomed the stringent standards put forward for the specific care of primates under private management.
“Overall, we were pleased to see that the standards prioritize the need to encourage natural and normal behaviour in primates through species-specific environmental enrichment and behavioural enrichment provision. We feel that with government support for local authorities, and using existing zoo Inspectors to support the assessment of private facilities, the standard can be used appropriately to ensure high standards of welfare for privately kept primates.” Simon Marsh, Wild Welfare Director.
Other aspects of the new standard were noted to require strengthening by the charity, for example, the need to replace “should” with “must” in much of the text, and to improve safety for primates and humans with the inclusion of double-door systems for all enclosures. Also, concerns over the capacity of local authorities to ensure that private keepers can meet the new standards were expressed, as well as worries over a lack of specialist vets and primate behaviour specialists to support private caregivers.
“If the standard is applied appropriately there may be many primates that need rehoming if the current keeper cannot meet the new standards. This will put pressure on facilities such as zoos or sanctuaries, especially if there are legal proceedings and the animals need to be kept for a prolonged period in quarantine or separate holding areas within the facility. The government needs to recognize this potential outcome and support local authorities and facilities in meeting this looming challenge” Simon added.
Although Wild Welfare focuses the majority of its animal welfare work across project countries such as Japan, Brazil and Indonesia, several of the team are UK-based and regularly lend their expertise to proposed changes to Bills and standards. Similar actions were taken by the organization in support of the updated standards for zoological facilities within the UK which took place in 2022.
Notes to Editors
For more information or interview requests please contact Wild Welfare on email@example.com
Wild Welfare is a global organisation committed to improving animal welfare for captive wild animals. By uniting the world’s leading zoos, zoo associations and animal welfare organisations, we build trusting partnerships that help provide long-term solutions to critical wild animal welfare issues.
Our vision is a world where every captive wild animal is able to thrive and live a good life. Find out more at wildwelfare.org. Registered charity in England (no.1165941).