Private Ownership of Primates

The following statement was approved by the Board of Directors on 30 June 1998, and amended on 3 October 2001:

WHEREAS nonhuman primates can pose a health hazard when not adequately maintained and securely contained; and

WHEREAS, the care and well-being of nonhuman primates in scientific and educational institutions is federally regulated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Animal Welfare Act; and

WHEREAS, international trade and domestic distribution of nonhuman primates is regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA); and

WHEREAS, the importation and domestic distribution of nonhuman primates is regulated by the U.S. Public Health Service through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); and

WHEREAS, individuals who privately acquire primates for non-educational or non-scientific purposes are usually unable to provide or sustain adequate care and facilities for these long-lived mammals; and

WHEREAS, the holding of nonhuman primates by individuals and organizations in non-scientific, non-educational settings is common but is not sufficiently regulated to assure adequate care and well-being of nonhuman primates or to assure adequate protection of humans from health risks;

The American Society of Primatologists recommends:

  1. That federal, state, and/or local regulations be promulgated regarding non-scientific, non-educational settings that would provide standards for nonhuman primate health, welfare, and protection of human health.
  2. That all individuals or organizations holding any nonhuman primates register with and be licensed by the USDA and be subject to inspection by the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and that such individuals or organizations comply with the USDA regulations under the Animal Welfare Act.
  3. That state and local governments be encouraged to regulate the ownership of nonhuman primates, through a program of required registration that would include appropriate health screening and inspection of the premises on which the nonhuman primates are maintained and that such registration programs be funded by user fees.
  4. That ASP discourages all individuals from privately owning primates for non-scientific or non-educational purposes and from breeding and selling or otherwise supplying nonhuman primates for non-scientific or non-educational purposes.

The ASP Board of Directors is indebted to Dr. Janette Wallis and the ASP Task Force on the Private Ownership of Primates for fact finding to inform and assist the ASP Board in developing this statement.