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The government estimates that up to 5,000 primates are currently kept outside of licensed zoos in the UK. Marmosets are by far the most commonly held primates in the UK, with capuchins, squirrel monkeys, lemurs and tamarins also among the most common species.
The new proposals will mean that specialist primate keepers who do not hold a zoo licence will need to obtain a new specialist private primate keeper licence to ensure they are meeting the required high welfare standards. These plans will also place welfare restrictions on the breeding and transferring of primates.
The BVA has welcomed the consultation. BVA Senior Vice President, Daniella Dos Santos said: “For a long time, we have called for a ban on private individuals keeping primates as pets. As vets, we have significant concerns as to whether the health and welfare needs of primates can ever be met under these circumstances.
“Primates are long-lived, intelligent and socially complex animals whose needs are extraordinarily difficult to meet in captivity and we can think of no circumstances where a primate would benefit from being kept in this way.
“We welcome the Government’s move to open a public consultation on this and hope that it does indeed result in a ban. If the UK wants to maintain its reputation for some of the highest standards of animal welfare in the world and if the government wants to fulfil its promises of enhancing the welfare of animals as we leave Europe then we must put an end to the keeping and trade of primates as pets.”
To take part in the consultation, visit: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/animal-health-and-welfare/primates-as-pets-in-england/consultation/intro/
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