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Monthly Archives: March 2024

Measures have been signed into law this week to ban the keeping of primates as pets.  There are a number of reasons why keeping primates in a domestic setting is problematic.

The legislation brings in a licensing scheme setting strict rules to ensure that only private keepers who meet new welfare and licensing standards will be able to keep primates, delivering on a government manifesto commitment and Action Plan for Animal Welfare pledge to provide greater legal protection for pet primates.

primates as pets

The measures come into force on 6 April 2025, when all primates in England will need to be kept to these zoo-level standards, in effect banning the practice of keeping primates as pets.

It is estimated that up to 5,000 primates are currently kept in domestic settings as pets in the UK. These wild animals have complex welfare and social needs and, according to most experts, cannot be adequately cared for in these environments. The new measures will improve the welfare of potentially thousands of these intelligent animals.

What is the relevant legislation?

The new rules are contained within The Animal Welfare (Primate Licences) (England) Regulations 2023.

What is the penalty for breaking the rules?

There are two potential offences to be considered under The Animal Welfare Act 2006.

  • Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence for a person who is responsible for an animal to cause the animal unnecessary suffering. This offence carries up to five years imprisonment.
  • Section 9 requires a person who is responsible for an animal to provide for the animal’s welfare needs in line with good practice. This offence carries up to 6 months imprisonment.

In addition, the 2023 Regulations create an offence of not complying with a licence condition which carries a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine.

How can we help?

If you require advice or representation in relation to any aspect of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 then please contact an expert criminal solicitor at one of our offices.

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Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


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