Labour vows 'total ban' on keeping primates as pets amid animal welfare concerns
A Labour government would implement a complete ban on keeping primates as pets, the party has announced.
Shadow environment minister Luke Pollard said the animals faced depression and disease as a result of being raised in captivity, as Labour vowed to end the trade in the exotic animals.
An estimated 5,000 primates, including marmosets, capuchins, squirrel monkeys and lemurs, are being kept as pets in the UK despite the animals requiring complex care.
But Labour warned that many of the animals have developed self-mutilating behaviours or painful illnesses after being taken away from their mothers at a young age and held in isolation.
"It is astonishing that is still entirely legal to keep primates as pets, regardless of how endangered or dangerous the animal is,” Mr Pollard said.
“Anyone can browse the internet and buy a primate with little or no checks and inspections.”
The plans, included in the party’s new Animal Welfare manifesto, come after the RSPCA said it had received calls almost every week about the welfare of pet primates, with some calls raising concerns about groups of dozens of the animals.
Mr Pollard added: "We know that primates are very intelligent, social animals with complex needs that simply cannot be met in a home environment.
"Labour will ban people from keeping pet primates as part of our plans to bring Britain's animal welfare laws into the 21st Century."
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs hase been contacted for comment.