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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 01:12 GMT 02:12 UK
Public review on monkeys as pets
Primate, RDS/Wellcome Trust photo
Pets may suffer distress similar in nature to humans
The public are to be consulted on keeping monkeys and apes as pets as part of a review of government policy.

Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight is due to announce the consultation as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) condemned keeping such pets.

An IFAW report said primates made unsuitable pets and could suffer distress similar in nature to humans.

Consultation will consider how to use European law regulating the keeping of primates and other endangered species.

The IFAW report will make a valuable contribution to the dialogue as we review and develop our policy on this issue
Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight

The European regulations only relate to conservation though, and cannot be used to address animal health or welfare issues.

But Mr Knight will say that the proposed Animal Welfare Bill, outlined in the Queen's Speech, will "set the framework for the law governing pets for many years to come".

He will say: "The extended duty to promote animal welfare will mean all domestic or captive animals must be cared for in accordance with best animal management practices."

'Morally unjustifiable'

Mr Knight will also say: "Based on our scientific advice, the government does not consider primates are suitable for the general pet trade, which is why we currently limit imports of these species to specialist keepers who must be able to demonstrate both that they are sufficiently well equipped and experienced to house and care for them.

"The IFAW report will make a valuable contribution to the dialogue as we review and develop our policy on this issue."

IFAW said the keeping of primates as pets was morally unjustifiable.

It complained that anyone could log on to the internet, scan classified ads in specialist magazines or inquire in a pet shop, and potentially obtain a monkey or ape as a pet.

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