Restrictions on the keeping of primates as pets in Wales are now “closer than ever” – much to the delight of the RSPCA.  

It is estimated that around 120 monkeys are currently being kept as pets across the nation and RSPCA Cymru has long called for a ban. The charity has welcomed news that new conditions in the UK Government’s Kept Animals Bill, which will ban the keeping of pet monkeys except under licence, are now set to apply to Wales too.

This year, the Welsh Government shifted its position stating it was now content for provisions around primates to extend to Wales. Previously, as recently as January, Welsh Ministers had suggested they were not minded to ban the keeping of pet primates.

Last month, in the UK Parliament at committee stage, a series of amendments were unanimously backed which will allow the Kept Animals Bill’s plans for primates to apply to Wales.

Under the new UK Government plans, privately-kept primates will all have to be registered and inspected and, following a phase-in period, will not be allowed to be kept in England or Wales unless specifically authorised under licence. Owners will need to meet certain conditions, including related to the animals’ environment, diet, accommodation and provision of behavioural needs. In Wales, these conditions will be set by Welsh Ministers.

In order for this to become law, Senedd Members will now need to pass a legislative consent motion, and Members of Parliament will need to pass the legislation at Westminster, to ensure the rules apply to Wales – both of which are expected to happen.

A new Supplementary Legislative Consent Memorandum was laid before the Senedd last week (December 10), reflecting the updated, amended contents of the UK Bill.

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 already overburdened local authorities, and hopes to see the scheme tightened further during its Parliamentary journey in 2022.

Polling for the RSPCA found 72 per cent of people in Wales support a ban of the keeping of all primates as pets; but estimates suggest approximately 120 monkeys are currently kept as pets across the nation.

Dr Ros Clubb, from the RSPCA’s wildlife department, said: “Recent amendments to the UK’s Kept Animals Bill are really positive as, following a change of position from the Welsh Government, they mean restrictions on the keeping of primates as pets in Wales are closer than ever.

“As recently as January, the Welsh Government wasn’t publicly minded to ban. But the RSPCA kept campaigning on this issue, and we’re really pleased that these provisions in the Kept Animals Bill are now set to apply in Wales.

 ”The RSPCA is clear that meeting the needs of monkeys and other primates is practically impossible in the domestic environment. Despite this, estimates say around 120 live this way in Wales – which is a real cause for concern; so we really need to see a strengthened Kept Animals Bill come into law, and for the Senedd to pass the LCM.

“The public in Wales have shown strong support for a ban – so we hope the Welsh Government will use their powers to ensure the conditions in which a primate can be kept are evidence-based and set a sufficiently high bar; and that the Bill ultimately doesn’t place too much pressure on already overstretched local authorities.”

More information on the RSPCA’s work with primates can be found online.