Senate committee advances captive primate bill

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chimp

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the federal Captive Primate Safety Act. - PHOTO: Courtesy

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the federal Captive Primate Safety Act, which would prohibit transporting primates in interstate commerce for the exotic pet trade.

“Primates belong in the wild, or in accredited sanctuaries or zoos, not in people’s basements or backyards," said Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States. "We commend Senator Boxer, Senator Vitter and the Committee for passing this much needed reform, and hope it gets to the president before the year ends.”

About 25 states prohibit keeping some or all primates as pets and several other states require a permit. Still, the animals are available for purchase from exotic animal breeders and dealers in the United States and over the Internet.

The humane society is a supporter of the bill because of concerns for animal welfare.

There also are concerns for public health and safety:

• Primates can inflict injuries and spread life-threatening disease, and the average pet owner cannot provide primates with proper care, according to the humane society.

• Primates can spread viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic diseases that pose serious health risks to humans. Most macaque monkeys carry the Herpes B virus, which is often fatal to humans.

Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman who lost her nose eyes and limps when she was attacked by a chimp in 2009, encouraged congressional action on the bill.

Nash, who received a face transplant after the attack by a friend's pet, lobbied lawmakers earlier this month.

Federal law already prohibits transporting lions and tigers across state lines for the pet trade.

The bill is S. 1463.