Born Free USA Rescues Third Monkey In Three Months; Calls For A Ban On Primates As Pets

Photo from: Born Free USA

Last week, Born Free USA welcomed a new monkey to its primate sanctuary in South Texas. Five-year-old vervet monkey, Maliki, is the third “pet” monkey that the nonprofit has rescued in three months. According to the charity, the need for homes for the rescued victims of the pet trade far outweighs the capacity of U.S. sanctuaries, and a change in the law is necessary to curb the trade of primates once and for all.

Born Free USA’s primate sanctuary, which is one of the largest in the United States, is home to hundreds of monkeys. Many of whom were previously in zoos, rehomed from laboratories, or like Maliki, were rescued from the illegal pet trade.

Now at the sanctuary, Maliki will receive high-quality medical care, nutritious food, room to roam and explore in a natural setting, freedom from unnecessary interactions with humans, and the opportunity to socialize with other monkeys.

“Maliki is one of the lucky ones. While he is one of the smaller species of primates commonly kept as “pets” in the U.S., his former owner realized just how dangerous these animals are and she made the right decision to surrender him to the expert care of a sanctuary,” Dr. Liz Tyson, Born Free USA Programs Director and head of the primate sanctuary, said in a statement. “Many others are not so lucky and an attack by a “pet” monkey can result in significant injury to people and, more often than not, the subsequent death of the monkey.”

Conservative estimates suggest that there are approximately 15,000 primates kept as “pets” in homes in the United States. Nonhuman primates, such as chimpanzees, gorillas, lemurs, orangutans, capuchins, and marmosets are highly intelligent and sensitive wild animals. In nature, most species live in complex, multigenerational, social hierarchies. These needs are fundamentally incompatible with the realities of life in captivity as pets. Nonhuman primates also carry a host of illnesses that can be passed on to humans.

“Maliki’s arrival at the sanctuary is part of a larger trend we are seeing of pet primate owners wishing to rehome animals to sanctuaries. In the last three months alone, we welcomed Kiki, another vervet monkey, and Gambit, a rhesus macaque, who had both been kept as pets since they were babies,” noted Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA. “During the same period, we have been contacted with requests to take on 18 individual monkeys. The demand for homes simply outweighs the available space at legitimate sanctuaries. We need a legislative solution to stop the trade at the source.”

While sanctuaries like Born Free USA can provide the space and opportunity for some of the rescued monkeys to have a fresh start in a natural setting, sanctuaries are not the solution to the exotic pet trade. Instead, new laws are needed to protect nonhuman primates and the public from the cruel and dangerous industry. The Captive Primate Safety Act is an important bill that aims to do just that.

Reintroduced in both chambers of U.S. Congress in May 2021, The Captive Primate Safety Act would prohibit the interstate commerce of primates as “pets” and ban the private ownership of these species, with exemptions for bona fide sanctuaries. Sadly, universities and certain facilities are also exempt. The bill would also restrict contact between the public and primates.

“We are grateful that Maliki’s former ‘owner’ chose to surrender him. He will now receive the expert care he requires. But, there are thousands of monkeys and other nonhuman primates being kept as “pets” in the U.S.,” continued Tyson. “The Captive Primate Safety Act will see to it that no more monkeys like Maliki suffer in the pet trade in the future, and no more people are needlessly injured by primates kept in private hands. We are working hard to ensure that this important piece of legislation becomes law.”

To learn more about Maliki and the other monkeys that have been rehomed, CLICK HERE!

To learn more about the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, CLICK HERE!

To take action on the Captive Primate Safety Act, CLICK HERE!

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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