4 The regulatory framework |
26. A framework of domestic and international rules,
regulations and guidance applies to different aspects of keeping
and trading pet primates in the UK. Of chief relevance to our
inquiry are the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA) and the accompanying
Primate Code, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1974 (DWAA), the
Pet Animals Act 1951 and the Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The Animal Welfare Act 2006
27. The Animal Welfare Act, which received Royal
Assent on 8 November 2006, was designed to reduce animal suffering
by consolidating and updating more than 20 pieces of animal welfare
legislation relating to farmed and non-farmed animals. Sections
4 and 9 of the AWA make it an offence, respectively, for a person
to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal, and for a person
responsible for an animal to fail to take reasonable steps to
ensure that the animal's needs are met. For the purposes of the
AWA, an animal's needs are taken to include:
· a suitable environment (how it is housed);
· a suitable diet (what it eats and drinks);
· the ability to exhibit normal behaviour
· any need it has to be housed with, or
apart from, other animals, and
· protection from pain, suffering, injury
28. Under the AWA, the maximum penalty for causing
unnecessary suffering to an animal is six months imprisonment
or a fine of £20,000 or both. The maximum penalty for failing
to provide for the welfare needs of an animal is six months imprisonment
or a fine of £5,000 or both.
29. The Government appears confident that the AWA
provides adequate protection for the welfare of privately kept
primates. Defra has said that "If keeping a primate as a
pet means keeping it in the domestic setting, whether in a cage
or running free, then this would be likely to be in breach of
section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (the need to provide
an animal with its welfare needs)".
30. On 5 February, the Minister told us that "keeping
primates in a domestic setting in isolation, outside a social
group and on inappropriate diets is already against the law. It
is against the Animal Welfare Act".
The Minister described the AWA as "an extremely effective
piece of legislation" and added shortly after, "I am
confident the legislation is adequate to deal with animal welfare
... The legislation does not need changing; it is a question of
how to interpret it, and that is what the [primate] code helps
31. The Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association
(REPTA) agreed that the AWA provided adequate protection for primates.
In written evidence it said, "It is clear that there is already
sufficient legislation under the Animal Welfare Act that prevents
the inappropriate keeping of primates as pets and that current
legislation is adequate and effective".
The Pet Industry Federation thought that the "Primate Code
of Practice, the Animal Welfare Act and Dangerous Wild Animal[s]
Act combined are more than sufficient to assure the welfare of
32. In written evidence, the RSPCA acknowledged that
The "duty of care" introduced by the
AWA has no doubt helped protect animal welfare but one must first
know where the animal is kept before positive action can be taken;
a difficult task when the majority are privately kept behind closed
33. The Animal Welfare Act was welcomed by a cross
section of organisations when it passed into law in 2006 and it
remains popular today. We received little evidence to suggest
that the Act itself needs further amendment. Where concerns were
raised, they tended to focus on matters of interpretation and
enforcement which we address in separate sections of this report.
The Primate Code
34. The Primate Code, made under section 14 of the
AWA, is a guide to the steps that a primate keeper must take to
meet the needs of the animal referred to in AWA section 9. Breaching
a Code provision is not, in itself, an offence but a court can
take into account the extent to which a person has complied with
the Code in determining whether or not that person has committed
an offence. Many
witnesses expressed concerns about the Code.
A NEED FOR SPECIFIC, UNAMBIGUOUS
35. One concern, frequently raised, was that the
Code was too general and ambiguous to be useful. It could be interpreted
in too many different ways, which undermined its effectiveness
and prevented it from achieving its objectives. In Lisa Riley's
The code of practice is completely ineffective.
It takes an expert to try to decipher it. For the layperson out
there, who has just purchased a primate off the internet, getting
... generalised information that is not relevant to a particular
species is not helpful.
36. Hannah Buchanan-Smith, an expert in primate behaviour
and welfare, said:
The Code of Practice is too general-each species
of primate has specific needs, and combined with lack of regulation
and inspection the Code does not provide an acceptable mechanism
for ensuring adequate welfare standards. Owners need very specialist
knowledge and training.
37. Elizabeth Tyson, a doctoral researcher at the
University of Essex School of Law, pointed out that "The
purposes of the codes [made under section 14 of the AWA] is to
give meaning and clarity to the legislation".
She considered it "vital that codes of practice are easily
interpreted in line with the legal demands to which they relate
and that they are as prescriptive and unambiguous as possible".
She goes on to say that "The obvious result of attempting
to create all-encompassing guidance to cover all the welfare needs
of all primate species is ambiguity".
38. The RSPCA explained that, while "the requirements
outlined in the Primate Code are necessar[il]y very general ...
the intention was to add more
detail in [attachments containing
species-specific information]. This never happened, leaving most
provisions open to interpretation and requiring further research".
When we asked Lisa Riley how the Code could be improved, she said
that "As a standalone document, as it is, it needs to be
fragmented and made into species-specific guidance if it is going
to remain in place".
39. If the Primate Code is to be effective, then
it must contain information that is both detailed and specific
enough to enable private keepers to meet the welfare needs of
their animals. Equally, the Code must be drafted with sufficient
clarity to allow someone who has never owned a primate of a particular
species to gain a reasonable understanding of how to comply with
the law, and to allow a court to determine whether or not the
Code has been complied with.
40. We recommend that the Government take the
opportunity presented by its forthcoming review of the Primate
Code to ensure that the Code is drafted in a clear and precise
manner that makes it easy to enforce and comply with. We also
recommend that species-specific appendices are added to the Primate
Code. The Government should begin its review with immediate effect.
A "PRIMATE-CENTRED" APPROACH
41. In evidence to the Committee, Monkey World, a
primate rescue centre, emphasised the need for a more comprehensive,
logical and joined-up approach to the regulation of primates in
captivity. This might be termed a "primate-centred"
approach since it is designed to ensure that a particular primate
would enjoy an equivalent level of care, irrespective of whether
it was being held in a zoo, circus, private home or pet shop.
Alison Cronin, Director of Monkey World, said that:
The highest duty of care is [contained] in the
Zoo Licensing Act. If a capuchin monkey in a zoo or wildlife park
is deserving of a certain standard of care and has a right to
that standard of care, that applies behind the net curtains as
well. The monkey remains the same; it does not change; its needs
are still the same.
42. Similar views have been expressed by other primate
sanctuaries and animal welfare organisations. If the highest standards
are to be found in the regulatory regime for zoos, and the Secretary
of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice (the Zoo Standards)
in particular, there
is a case for raising the standards in the Primate Code to a level
that is similar or equivalent to those contained in the Zoo Standards.
43. Adopting a "primate-centred" approach
also involves looking across the entire journey that a privately
kept primate makesfrom birth, through to sale and transportation
to its life in captivity and eventual demiseto ensure that
its welfare is adequately protected at all times in its life.
Looking at the Code from this perspective, there appears to be
significant scope for improvement. Alison Cronin perceived gaps
in the Code:
It does not cover the full trade, from beginning
to end. It does not cover breeders and what they do, what age
they can remove animals from the mother's care in order to pass
that animal onto another individual. It does not cover how you
transport those animals across the country when somebody buys
it off the internet. It does not even cover who is considered
a breeder from their private home.
44. While the specific details involved in adequately
caring for a primate vary according to setting, there is a strong
case for ensuring that primates being held in any setting enjoy
a similar standard of care. It is also important to ensure that
adequate protection is afforded to privately kept and traded primates
at all stages in their lives.
45. We recommend that the Government adopt a "primate-centred"
approach when it reviews the Primate Code. This should include
raising the standards in the Code to a level equivalent to zoo
standards and ensuring that the Code adequately covers all stages
in the life of a privately kept primate, including breeding and
Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
46. The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (DWAA) was
introduced following a fashion in the 1970s for keeping exotic
animals, especially big cats, as pets. It received Royal Assent
on 22 July 1976 and came into force on 22 October 1976. The aim
of the Act is to ensure that, where private individuals keep dangerous
wild animals, they do so without creating a risk to the public
and, to a lesser extent, to protect the welfare of the animals.
47. Animals listed in a Schedule to the DWAA are
subject to a licensing regime administered and enforced by local
authorities. A licence must not be granted by a local authority
unless it is satisfied that it would not be contrary to the public
interest on grounds of safety or nuisance to do so, that the applicant
is a suitable person, and that the animal's accommodation is adequate
48. The RSPCA explained that "although most
primate species are listed [in the DWAA Schedule], those we believe
to be most commonly kept as pets, such as marmosets, squirrel
monkeys and tamarins are not".
Some of these species were originally included in the DWAA Schedule
but subsequently de-listed in October 2007.
49. The result, according to witnesses such as Elizabeth
Tyson, is that the DWAA "cannot be considered to be an effective
legal mechanism for the protection of the welfare of privately
kept primates in the UK".
Wetheriggs Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre observed that
the major problems seem to be with those primates
that do not fall under the [DWAA]
if these species were
regulated in the same way that the "dangerous primates"
then most of the nightmare would be done away with.
50. Defra challenged this idea on the basis that
the 1976 Act is principally about protecting
people from animals rather than providing additional welfare protection
to animals ... legal advice has confirmed that, if species were
listed for reasons other than their dangerousness, then there
would be a high risk of legal challenge being successful.
51. Some witnesses, such as Douglas Richardson, Animal
Manager at the Highland Wildlife Park, suggested that "from
a disease perspective specifically, it would be prudent to include
all primates under the [DWAA]".
However, even assuming such arguments were accepted by Defra,
other drawbacks with the DWAA would remain.
52. According to the RSPCA, "The inadequacies
of the DWAA are many, most notably extremely high levels of noncompliance
... There is also a lack of understanding within local authorities
about their responsibilities under the DWAA and the needs of primates".
We discuss these matters further in the next Chapter.
53. In light of the evidence we received, we considered
the merits of recommending the establishment of a new licensing
system, covering all primate species, under the auspices of section
13 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. While this remains a possibility,
such a course of action would be difficult to justify in the absence
of more reliable information about the scale and scope of the
problem being addressed. We are also mindful of the need to avoid
the mistakes of the past. As the Minister said, "we used
to have a system for licensing dogs in this country which was
abandoned because it was expensive to administer and many dog
owners simply ignored it".
The dog licence was abolished in 1987 at which point it cost just
37p and was held by just 50% of dog owners.
54. The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 cannot
be considered to be an effective mechanism for protecting the
welfare of pet primates. Commonly kept primate species do not
have to be licensed under the Act and the focus of the Act is
on protecting people from animals rather than the other way around.
If the results of the research exercise we recommend in Chapter
3 suggest that a more comprehensive licensing system for pet primates
is justified, this could be achieved under the auspices of the
DWAA or the Animal Welfare Act. However, the problems associated
with pet licensing schemes in the past suggest that this should
not be regarded as a panacea.
Pet Animals Act 1951
55. The Pet Animals Act, which came into force on
1 April 1952, protects the welfare of animals sold as pets. It
requires anyone keeping a pet shop to be licensed by their local
granting a licence, a local authority must be satisfied that,
among other things, the animals are: kept in suitable and clean
accommodation; supplied with appropriate food and drink, and adequately
protected from disease and fire.
56. A local authority can issue a licence with conditions,
such as limiting the species of animals that the pet shop may
sell, and has powers to investigate allegations of cruelty or
poor welfare in a pet shop. Anyone who keeps a pet shop without
a valid licence, or who breaches their licence conditions, is
committing an offence. The maximum penalty for such an offence
is three months imprisonment or a fine of £500, or both.
57. Evidence suggests that the Act is ill-equipped
to deal with the problems of the internet age. OneKind, an animal
protection charity, described how
Animals, including primates, can be ordered from
internet classified advertising sites and, in theory at least,
delivered within a day or two to distant locations without any
monitoring, regulation or specific welfare provision. The Pet
Animals Act 1951 dates from before the birth of the internet,
or indeed its inventor, and cannot regulate this trade.
58. The result is ambiguity and confusion among those
who have to comply with or enforce the Act, and gaps in the regulatory
framework. Lisa Riley told us that some local authorities "have
expressed confusion as to whether online pet shops require a licence
because they do not sell from a physical premises".
Meanwhile, she says, there is substantial evidence of private
online sales, which are exempt from licensing.
59. Ambiguity and confusion are not helped by a lack
of guidance, a further problem identified in evidence. Monkey
World and Animal Defenders International, an international campaigning
group, pointed to the lack of clarity in guidance or legislation
about how many primates a person could sell from their home before
they were treated as a commercial operator and subject to the
same licensing standards as a pet shop.
The Animal Protection Agency, said that:
Even where sellers are licensed under the Pet
Animals Act 1951, no specific and formal guidance is provided
for primates and, furthermore, there is no mention of primates
in the Model Conditions for Pet Vending Licensing 2013 (minimum
standards for pet shops published by the Chartered Institute of
60. Monkey World drew our attention to the lack of
adequate information and training given by those who sell pet
primates to prospective owners:
In our experience private breeders, pet shops
and dealers do not give adequate information, let alone training,
to prospective owners and often the information given is inaccurate
or wrong. In order to secure a sale ... [prospective] owners are
told ... [information] which is inaccurate [or] untrue.
While this problem is not unique to online sales,
internet trading can often make it worse.
61. The Pet Animals Act 1951 entered the statute
books at a time when there was much less interest in keeping or
breeding exotic animals as pets and before online sales of pet
primates had been contemplated. A review of the Act would be beneficial
to ensure that it remains relevant in the internet age.
62. We recommend that Defra review the Pet Animals
Act 1951 to ensure that it remains relevant and effective in the
Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
63. CITES, an international agreement drawn up in
1973, controls the international trade in primates, among other
wild fauna and flora. Its aim is to ensure that international
trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten
their survival. The species covered by CITES are listed in three
Appendices according to the degree of protection provided.
64. Specimens of Appendix I species may be traded
only in exceptional circumstances. Trade in specimens of Appendix
II species is controlled to ensure the survival of the species.
Appendix III contains species that are listed in at least one
country that has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling
the trade. All primate species are listed in either Appendix I
or Appendix II.
65. CITES is implemented in the European Union by
Council Regulation 338/97 and Commission Regulation 865/2006 (collectively,
the EU CITES regulations). The Control of Trade in Endangered
Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997 (COTES) enforce CITES in
66. We received little evidence in relation to CITES,
the EU CITES regulations or COTES during our inquiry. The Minister,
Lord de Mauley, told us that "Imports of wild-taken primates
are subject to particularly rigorous control under the CITES system",
although this was disputed in supplementary evidence from Wild
67. There was, however, consensus among witnesses
that the domestic trade in pet primates presented a greater problem
than international imports. According to Defra,
there is little evidence to show that wild-caught
primates are being transported to this country for the pet trade.
It is more likely that UK residents will obtain a captive bred
primate than one that is wild caught and then transported to this
68. Ros Clubb of the RSPCA said:
The general impression we get is that the majority
[of pet primates] are not being brought into the country, although
that does occur. There is certainly breeding within the country
that is leading to an increase in the numbers kept.
69. We received little evidence to suggest that
changes to the CITES system are necessary to protect the welfare
of privately kept primates in the UK. The evidence we received
suggested that the domestic trade in pet primates represents a
greater problem than international imports into the UK.
51 Animal Welfare Act 2006, s9 (2) Back
Animal Welfare Act 2006, s32(1)(b), 32(2) (b) and 32(5). The anticipated
change to a maximum penalty of 51 weeks imprisonment for both
of these offences, referred to in s32(1)(a) and 32(2)(a) of the
AWA, will not take place unless and until s281(5) of the Criminal
Justice Act 2003 is brought into force. As things stand, the maximum
term of imprisonment remains six months. Back
Defra [PAP 27], para 1.5 Back
Q 45 Back
Qq 60-61 Back
Reptile and Exotic Pet
Trade Association [PAP 11], para 13 Back
Pet Industry Federation [PAP 40], p.1 Back
RSPCA [PAP 36], para 13. Back
Defra, Code of Practice for the Welfare of Privately Kept Non-Human Primates,
21 January 2010, p.1 Back
Q 33 Back
Hannah Buchanan-Smith [PAP 16], para 2.2 Back
Elizabeth Tyson [PAP 12], para 2.2 Back
Elizabeth Tyson [PAP 12], para 3.1 Back
Elizabeth Tyson [PAP 12], para 3.2 Back
RSPCA [PAP 36], para 20 Back
Q 36 Back
Monkey World [PAP], para
15 and Q 36 [Alison Cronin] Back
Q 36 Back
Defra, Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice,
11 September 2012. Back
Q 35 Back
Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, s1(3). Back
RSPCA [PAP 36 Back
The Dangerous Wild Animals
Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007 (SI 2007/2465). Back
Elizabeth Tyson [PAP 12],
Wetheriggs Animal Rescue
and Conservation Centre [PAP 2], p.1-2. Back
Defra [PAP 27], para 3.14 Back
Douglas Richardson [PAP
42], para 3; Ash Veterinary Surgery [PAP 39], p.1 Back
RSPCA [PAP 36], para 16. Back
Q 69 Back
Dogs, Research Paper 98/6, House of Commons Library, January 1998,
Keeping a pet shop is defined as "carrying on at premises
of any nature ... a business of selling animals as pets".
The definition excludes a person who only keeps or sells pedigree
animals bred by him or the offspring of an animal kept by him
as a pet. Back
Pet Animals Act 1951, s1(3) Back
Defra [PAP 27], para 3.9-3.10 Back
Defra [PAP 27], para 3.14 Back
Lisa Riley [PAP 24], p.2 Back
Lisa Riley [PAP 24], p.2 Back
Monkey World [PAP 31], para 18 and Animal Defenders International
[PAP 34], para 5 Back
Monkey World [PAP 31], para 17 Back
Monkey World [PAP 31],
para 17 Back
Q 49 Back
Wild Futures Supplementary [PAP 46], p.3 Back
Defra [PAP 27], para 2.3 Back
Q 7. See also Humane Society International [PAP 29], para 11. Back