Environment

Welsh Government urged to not ‘fall behind’ as England looks to ban primates as pets

RSPCA Cymru has urged the Welsh Government to ensure animal welfare doesn’t “fall behind” in Wales – as proposals come forward in England to ban the keeping of primates as pets.

The UK Government on Saturday (12 December) launched an eight-week consultation into banning the keeping of primates as pets in England.

RSPCA Cymru has long opposed the practice – believing that meeting the needs of monkeys is essentially impossible to do in a household, domestic environment.

Estimates suggest approximately 120 primates are kept as pets in Wales – but the RSPCA has long had concerns about a lack of accurate data; fearing many more monkeys could be at risk behind closed doors.

Polling for the RSPCA found 72 per cent in Wales support a ban of the keeping of all primates as pets.

The animal welfare charity is now urging the Welsh Government to act and implement a ban in Wales as soon as possible – either by bringing forward their own ban in Wales, or putting forward a consent memorandum to the Welsh Parliament should a new law in England materialise, which would allow UK Government action to apply to Wales too.

Work has been ongoing on a code of practice for the keeping of primates as pets in Wales by the Animal Welfare Network for Wales – but an “outright ban” on the practice has always been the preference of the RSPCA.

David Bowles, RSPCA head of public affairs, said: “It’s great news that the UK Government is consulting on a ban on the keeping of primates as pets in England – but it’s so important that Wales doesn’t fall behind.

“RSPCA Cymru has long campaigned for a ban on the keeping of primates as pets in Wales – but sadly estimates suggest some 120 are currently kept, and we fear the problem could be even more widespread.

“We call on the Welsh Government to further the nation’s animal welfare agenda by implementing a ban on the keeping and trade of monkeys and other primates kept as pets – either by bringing forward their own proposals; or putting a consent motion forward to the Welsh Parliament so any new law or regulation in England can apply to Wales too.”

In 2017, a marmoset monkey was rescued by the RSPCA from a house in Blaenymaes, Swansea. The primate was being kept in hugely inappropriate conditions; loose in the living room, with a 3ft x 3ft x 3ft cage positioned in the corner with a UV light above it.

Meanwhile, the previous year, a very thin and emaciated marmoset monkey was found roaming the streets of Newport with a fractured pelvis. On independent veterinary advice, the monkey had to be put to sleep on welfare grounds.

In 2018, 14 incidents were reported to the RSPCA in Wales involving a primate, while a further 15 were reported to the charity the following year.

Dr Ros Clubb, RSPCA wildlife expert, added: “Sadly, RSPCA officers often deal with monkeys found in wholly inappropriate domestic conditions – highlighting how the current situation where they are easily bought just isn’t tenable.

“It’s essentially impossible to properly meet the needs of primates in the domestic, home environment – so we have long called for a ban.

“While the RSPCA has been pleased to undertake ongoing work with the Animal Welfare Network for Wales on a code of practice for the keeping or pet primates, an outright ban on this practice has always been the RSPCA’s aim.

“At least 15 countries across Europe have already acted on this issue, and with England consulting on a ban too, it’s clearly time for the Welsh Government to take action and ensure monkeys can no longer be acquired or kept as pets in Wales – with their welfare sadly at risk at the moment.”

More information on the RSPCA’s campaign to end the keeping of primates as pets in Wales can be found online.


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