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Sun, 21 April 2024

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New legislation regulating primate pets is ‘a step in the right direction’

British Veterinary Association

2 min read Partner content

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS) have said new regulations, which mean all primates in England will need to be kept in zoo-level standards - in effect banning the practice of keeping them as pets – are a ‘step in the right direction’.

The changes, which were introduced via secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and passed into law on Wednesday, mean that from 6 April 2026 only private keepers who can provide the highest welfare standards will be able to keep primates and then only if they abide by strict rules of a licencing scheme.

Primates require a high degree of care which is almost impossible to provide when kept as pets in a home environment. It is positive to see the requirements to hold a licence for keeping primates means it is no longer possible to legally keep primates in domestic settings, but more guidance and detail is needed as to how this will be enforced and who by.

On behalf of BVA and BVZS, British Veterinary Association President Anna Judson said: “After years of pressing the Government to deliver its manifesto promise and take action to protect primates from being kept as pets in the UK, this new legislation is a step in the right direction. However, whilst we strongly support the licencing and inspection of privately kept primates, it remains unclear who will carry out inspections and how this will be enforced. In addition, the availability of those with suitable expertise to carry out inspections to ensure standards are met may also be a limitation. We urge the Government to continue to engage with veterinary and zoological organisations to ensure the welfare and protection of these highly intelligent animals is at the forefront of any legislation and that regulations are robust and enforceable.”

BVA outlined the need for a ban on keeping primates as pets in its recent policy position on non-traditional companion animals. Read the position at www.bva.co.uk/exoticpets.

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