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Labour to ban pet monkeys

Colin Drury

Owning a pet monkey is to be made illegal if Labour forms the next government, the party has announced.

Trading, training and keeping primates – including marmosets, capuchins and lemurs – would be made a criminal offence under the new policy revealed on Tuesday.

It forms a central part of the party’s animal welfare manifesto, which will be revealed in full in the autumn, shadow environment minister Luke Pollard said.

The MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said: “It is astonishing that it is still entirely legal to keep primates as pets, regardless of how endangered or dangerous the animal is.

“Anyone can browse the internet and buy a primate with little or no checks and inspections.

“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 party estimates that around 5,000 monkeys are currently kept as domestic animals in the UK.

Present legislation states that owners must prevent “unnecessary suffering” and must take “all reasonable steps to meet their animal’s needs”.

But critics say the rules are difficult to enforce and a breaches are considered criminal offences.