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RSPCA calls for primate pet ban
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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New DNA testing scheme for Labradors

News Story 1
 The Kennel Club has approved a new DNA testing scheme for hereditary nasal parakeratosis (HNPK) in Labrador retrievers. Announcing the news, Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko, said: "The Labrador is the most popular breed of dog in the UK, so ensuring that the resources are available for breeders to make informed breeding decisions is paramount.

"We are pleased to be announcing this new DNA test for the breed, which will assist in responsible breeding and enable potential puppy buyers to be aware of an issue which could affect their chosen breed, and ultimately protect and maintain the health of the breed."

A list of the laboratories the Kennel Club accepts results from can be found here: thekennelclub.org.uk  

News Shorts
Prion diseases 'should remain national research priority'

Professor Neil Mabbott, a group leader at the Roslin Institute, has written about the importance of further research into prion diseases in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

Prion diseases remain untreatable but research over the past 10 years has shed light on how prion proteins are transmitted and has allowed preventative measures to be adopted.

Prof Mabbott said there is a clear need for further research into how prions spread from the gut to the brain, causing irreversible damage, and for this knowledge to be translated into therapies.