Owning a primate as a pet would be a federal crime if the Captive Primate Safety Act is passed. Proposed late last month and co-sponsored by Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, the measure amends existing legislation to include the sort of animal that mauled Stamford’s Charla Nash in 2009.
Nash spoke in favor of the bill last year, giving Congress a detailed account of her injuries.
“I’m here today to make sure that what happened to me never happens to anyone else. In 2009, I was attacked and mauled by my boss’s chimp, Travis. He ripped off my face, hands and doctors were able to salvage my thumb and sew it on sideways, Nash said last year.
Connecticut is one of about 25 states with restrictions on so-called exotic animals like chimpanzees and other primates, but as Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, wrote in a press release when the bill was initially proposed in 2013, the animals are often purchased legally and transported over state lines.
The current bill, H.R.2920, would add primates to the list of exotic animals prohibited from transport over state lines under the Lacey Act of 1981.
“Allowing primates to be held as pets for individuals can result in nothing but tragedy,” Blumenauer said in 2013. “Time and again we have seen that it is dangerous and unhealthy for both humans and captive primates and is cruel to the animals.”
Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., who sponsored the legislation this year and co-sponsored it back in 2013, said then that more than 270 people, among them 86 children, had been injured by captive primates since 1990.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said then that, “Private citizens are ill-equipped to properly care for these complex and intelligent animals, and law enforcement agencies expend countless hours and resources responding to the escapes, attacks, and neglect cases that inevitably arise when primates are kept in private hands.”
Nash attempted to sue Connecticut in 2014 on the grounds that state officials knew the chimp was dangerous and residing illegally in the state. That lawsuit was blocked by the state legislature.
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