Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Should Primates Be Kept As Pets in the UK… or Anywhere?

2 June 2014

Categories: Homepage News, Primates Campaign News, Zoo Check Campaign News

Born Free CEO Adam Roberts

On Thursday 29th May, international primatologists, campaigners, veterinarians, lawyers, students and many more gathered in London for a conference to answer the question: "Should Primates Be Kept As Pets In The UK?". The conference, organised by the Born Free Foundation and the Humane Society International UK, in association with the Nocturnal Primate Research Group at Oxford Brookes University, included presentations and discussions on a wide range of topics: from the welfare of primates as pets, to the problems with the current legal and enforcement regime in the UK, to how other countries are dealing with the keeping of primates as pets. It would be unfair on the presenters to try to summarise the very high-quality proceedings here, but some highlights follow:

Long-standing consultant for Born Free, Ian Redmond OBE, opened proceedings with a very personal and persuasive insight into the drive humans seem to have to interact with nonhuman primates, and how this leads us to  place primates in situations that compromise their welfare.

In order to find ways to tackle the problem in the UK, we may have to look to solutions (and occasionally mistakes) made in other countries. Born Free's CEO, Adam Roberts, outlined the problems encountered with the widespread keeping of primates as pets in the USA, and the steps being taken to combat the trade in primates.

Marmosets are thought to be the species of primate most commonly kept as pets in the UK. Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith from the University of Stirling provided a compelling argument against the keeping of primates as pets, focusing on the welfare considerations and difficulties of meeting the needs of marmosets in a domestic environment. For more information on why marmosets are not suitable as pets, take a look at a short video produced by the University of Stirling, the Primate Society of Great Britain and the National Centre for the 3Rs:

The recipient of the 2013 Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation, Professor Anna Nekaris from Oxford Brookes University, presented her work on the trade in slow lorises throughout Southeast Asia and evidence of the demand for these small nocturnal primates in the UK.

Despite some technical differences on what exactly constitutes a “pet”, most experts in the room were united in their opinion that primates should not be kept as pets (ie. in a domestic setting) in the UK. The take-home message was that the current situation is unacceptable. It is now up to Born Free, our colleagues and our supporters to make a change happen – keep following Born Free’s work to find out more.

We are extremely grateful to all the speakers, the Humane Society International UK and the group from Oxford Brookes University for making it such a successful and fascinating day.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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