RSPCA Cymru has welcomed an announcement from the Welsh Government which could pave the way for major restrictions being placed on the keeping of primates as pets in Wales for the first time, in what has been labelled a “big win” for the charity’s long-running campaign.
On Tuesday (22 June), the Welsh Government published a legislative consent motion concerning the UK Government’s Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, promoting a joined-up approach on a host of animal welfare policies between the two countries.
The UK Government legislation intends to make a number of reforms relating to the welfare of kept animals – including on primates as pets, livestock worrying, the export of live animals, and pet importation.
As animal welfare is devolved, the LCM – which will require the support of Senedd Members – will give the UK Government consent to legislate on animal welfare matters usually the exclusive concern of the Welsh Government. These include a new approach to dog attacks on livestock, and a ban on export of livestock for slaughter or further fattening.
Nevertheless, plans to prohibit the keeping of primates currently only apply to England in the Bill – with the Welsh Government having previously suggested – as recently as January – that it was not minded to seek to ban this practice in Wales.
Under the new UK Government plans, primates may not be kept in England unless specifically authorised under licence – and owners will need to meet certain standards set by the Secretary of State in regulations, including related to the animals’ environment, diet, accommodation and provision of behavioural needs. The Secretary of State may also impose requirements for primates to be microchipped. The RSPCA strongly supports the intention of the UK Government’s Bill to ban keeping primates as pets - but does have concerns that it relies so heavily on a licensing scheme administered by overburdened local authorities, and hopes to see the scheme tightened further during its Parliamentary journey.
Within its LCM, the Welsh Government has now suggested it would also be “content” that provisions prohibiting the keeping of primates as pets be extended to Wales, so long as Welsh Ministers for Wales were given the same powers as the Secretary of State in England. This could pave the way for the UK Kept Animals Bill to be amended so restrictions on the keeping of primates extend to Wales too – with Welsh Ministers empowered to make state its own specific requirements for licensing standards.
RSPCA Cymru has long campaigned for a ban – believing that meeting the needs of monkeys and other primates is essentially impossible to do in a household, domestic environment. Despite this, there are an estimated 120 primates being kept as pets in Wales.
Polling for the RSPCA found 72 per cent in Wales support a ban of the keeping of all primates as pets.
RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said: “We really welcome this announcement from the Welsh Government – which seems to suggest a ban on the keeping of primates as pets in Wales could be on the way, following tireless campaigning by the RSPCA.
“As recently as January, the Welsh Government was publicly not minded to ban – but, following valuable discussions and our ongoing campaigning, we’re over the moon to hear them support these important provisions in the Kept Animals Bill extending to Wales.
“Put simply, meeting the needs of monkeys and other primates is practically impossible in the domestic environment – and we’re concerned that many in Wales are suffering behind closed doors in the absence of legislation.
“We know the public supports a ban – and this is a big win for them and our campaign. We’re delighted that the laying of this LCM has put us a big step closer to ending the keeping of primates as pets in wholly inappropriate environments here in Wales.”