Animals: Imports

House of Lords written question – answered on 2nd March 2011.

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Photo of Lord Wills Lord Wills Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to ensure that primates imported from Asia are not captured from the wild.

Photo of Baroness Neville-Jones Baroness Neville-Jones Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

Since 1995 Home Office policy has prohibited the use of wild-caught non-human primates in scientific procedures licensed under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 except where exceptional and specific justification can be established.

The use in regulated procedures of non-human primates obtained from overseas sources is subject to controls intended to support the ban on the use of wild-caught animals. With regard to animals destined for the United Kingdom, the acquisition of each consignment of primates requires prior authorisation which is given only if the breeding centre meets specific qualifying standards of colony management. These include the operation of an effective breeding programme, an adequate system for maintaining individual lifetime records and, where applicable, a policy of reducing dependence on wild-caught animals for future breeding stock.

Information submitted to the Home Office following the acquisition of each batch of non-human primates includes copies of the individual lifetime records that prove that animals have been born in captivity.

With regard to primates imported for other purposes, all primates are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which means that all international, commercial trade in them is strictly regulated. The objective of CITES is not to prohibit all trade in animals and plants, but to ensure that it is carried out in a sustainable way that ensures the long-term survival of all species.

Imports of primates are allowed only after a determination has been made by the United Kingdom's scientific advisers that the trade will not have a detrimental impact on the long-term survival of the species in the wild.

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