The public overwhelmingly want pet primates banned in Britain and few want one for themselves, but views vary by age
MPs have stopped short of backing a ban on keeping and trading primates (monkeys and apes) as pets, arguing that more research must be done into the number of primate pets already in Britain. Current estimates vary wildly – between 3,000 and 20,000, according to a recent report by the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee. MPs say accurate data is essential to laying the groundwork for establishing a ban, something animal welfare groups already support.
The move is widely backed by public opinion, according to the latest YouGov research. By 75-11%, British people say keeping monkeys as pets should be banned.
Views are generally similar across demographics, but there are significant variances among different age groups. Specifically, there is a 31-point gap in support for the ban between 18-24 year olds (54%) and people aged 60 and up (85%).
One possible explanation for the difference: a quarter of people in that younger age group also answer “yes” to the question “would you like a monkey for a pet?” Among over-60s, that number is barely above zero (3%).
Overall, nine per cent of British people say they would like a monkey for a pet.
Though the MPs express support for the ban in their report, the step is also described as “draconian”. Welfare groups argue that the social, behavioural, environmental and dietary needs of primates are too complex to be provided in a domestic environment.