How We Can Protect Primates From the Exotic Pet Trade

It might seem like keeping primates as companion animals would be banned in the U.S., or at least heavily regulated, but despite efforts to shut down the pet trade here it’s still perfectly legal to buy a sell a variety of nonhuman primates intended as pets.

In an effort to protect both us and them from the consequences of this trade, congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) have reintroduced the Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2920), which will amend the Lacey Act to add nonhuman primates to the list of animals who can’t be bought or moved across state lines as pets.

“Primates are wild animals, and they do not belong in our homes. Time and again we have seen that it is dangerous for humans and cruel to the animals. In the 21st century, there is no place for keeping primates as pets,” said Blumenauer in a statement. “This legislation will protect our families and ensure the humane treatment of these animals. We will continue to gather support for this bill and educate as many members as we can until it passes and this unacceptable practice is ended.”

While there are a patchwork of state laws and regulations across the nation that deal with primates as pets, people can still easily get them online, at auctions and from out-of-state dealers, which animal advocates believe makes federal legislation necessary to cover the gaps.

Unfortunately, us continuing to see them as animals who will make good pets continues to drive the trade, despite the negative consequences for both us and them.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, since 1990, more than 275 people―including dozens of children―have been injured by primates, while many more incidents are believed to have gone unreported. Close contact with them also puts us at risk for contracting a number of diseases, including ebola, tuberculosis and herpes-B.

While we choose to put ourselves at risk, primates on the other hand have no say in the matter. Animal advocates have raised serious concerns about the inherently inhumane nature of the trade in these intelligent and social animals.

Problems range from infants being torn from their mothers, mutilating them to make them less dangerous to keeping them in conditions that either don’t meet their needs or are blatantly abusive. More problems can come when those cute little babies get too expensive, or too large or difficult to handle and there are few places for them to go.

Conservationists also worry that keeping them in this way will undermine efforts to protect species in the wild. Not only does keeping them as pets create the illusion that wild populations aren’t in trouble, but many continue to be removed from the wild for the illegal pet trade which compounds the problem.

This legislation has been previously introduced and supported by a number of animal advocacy organizations. Hopefully this time around lawmakers will pass it and send a strong message that primates belong in the wild with their own families, not in our homes with ours.


Please sign and share the petition urging Congress to act to keep both us and nonhuman primates safe by passing the Captive Primate Safety Act.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago

Education, education, education.... Petition signed

Ana Marija Rumbak
ANA MARIJA R2 years ago

heather g. said it all
Ana Marija, you took action on July 21, 2015
Thank you for the article.

Sheila C.
Sheila C2 years ago

Signed. Why do people want to keep wild animals as pets? Imagine the situation reversed, a human child captured and separated from family and peers, boxed into a cage and dumped into an alien environment.

Marija Mohoric
Marija M2 years ago

crazy ...who?

Rachel Nichols
Rachel Nichols2 years ago

Saving animals and anyone's life when in danger should never cost a penny...someone should point that out and make that the real truth of the world again...because it IS the truth of this world and someday it will be.

Janis K.
Janis K2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege2 years ago

Signed, of course. When I look at that frightened little monkey, I find it heartbreaking. How can we, humans, use animals that way??

Stardust Noel
Stardust Noel2 years ago


Ruth S.
Ruth C2 years ago