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RSPCA calls for primate pet ban
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Court case prompts calls for ban.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has called for a ban on keeping primates as pets after a court case in which a West Midlands couple who sold a severely  malformed marmoset rather than take it to a vet were disqualified from keeping animals for life. Mrs Sheryll Murray MP, the Member of Parliament for South East Cornwall, has also announced that she will push for a ban.

Disturbing film footage showing the marmoset named 'Mikey' attempting to walk on bent legs and being unable to climb was shown to Dudley Magistrates Court. The offence first came to light after the couple sold the baby monkey to a pensioner while it was in a hamster cage in the back of a car in a chip shop car park. The pensioner took it to a local exotic pet dealer, who alerted the RSPCA.

Lee Powell, 50, and Julie Ann Jones, 41, both of Sunderland Drive, Stourbridge, were found guilty of causing the animal unnecessary suffering. Both were ordered to pay more than £5,000 in costs and compensation and do 300 hours of unpaid work. The marmoset, who was found to have advanced bone disease, seven fractures and a broken tail, had to be put down.

RSPCA inspectors dealt with 315 incidents involving 645 pet primates between 2001 and 2010. "Welfare issues" were cited in half of the incidents and legal action was taken in six cases, resulting in two convictions. Complaints about primates are four to twelve times higher than those concerning more conventional pets.

“Primates are so complicated and have such complex needs and most primate owners, unless they have very specialist training, cannot look after them properly," said RSPCA Primatologist Lisa Riley.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) brought in a code of practice for primate keepers in 2010. However, the code is "non-binding" and animal charities have pointed out that it is largely unknown. Furthermore, many primates are illegally traded due to endangered species protection status.

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BEVA Trust to launch vet volunteer pilot projects

Following a review of its activities and an assessment of BEVA members views, the BEVA Trust is set to launch a series of vet volunteer pilot projects. The projects will help to decide whether BEVA members' willingness to donate their own time can be used in ventures to improve equine health and welfare.

The review was undertook by experts from veterinary, equine, charity and commercial sectors. They considered the evolution of the Trust and gathered the views of BEVA members, to assess what charitable activities were needed and achievable. It was strongly agreed that BEVA should have a philanthropic arm and a significant majority expressed that they would be willing to donate their time in support of the trust.

In response to the review, the Trust now plans to make use of the expertise and significant intellectual capital within BEVA and put it to a charitable purpose through pilot partnerships with existing NGOs. An initial series of projects will involve collaboration with UK and international organisations, including the British Horse Society, to put equine veterinary volunteers on the ground to provide clinical skills and education.