Position Statements

Featured: Valentina Rose from Chimp Haven

NAPSA's Mission

The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance’s mission is to advance and advocate for the welfare of captive primates. As our advocacy programs grow, we are proud to use our voice on behalf of the 800+ nonhuman primates living at NAPSA member sanctuaries.

NAPSA does not currently offer position statements on the topics of laboratory research or zoos. Our members do not necessarily have a unified stance on these topics and may have close ties to many people involved in these fields and/or may be actively working in a collaborative fashion with these industries in order to retire primates.

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Media Inquiries

Erika Fleury
NAPSA Program Director
(860) 806-4542
info@sanctuary-alliance.org

Private Ownership of Primates
Performing Primates
Monkey Rodoes
Service Monkeys
Retired Primates Funding
Private Ownership of Primates

The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) is opposed to the private ownership of primates. The private ownership of primates is never in the best interest of the animal or the owner.

Unlike dogs and cats, apes and monkeys are not domesticated animals. Non-human primates are extremely social animals whose normal development requires the company of others of their own kind. Ideally, primates should live in the wild. Their natural habitats include species-typical social groups that allow them to learn from their families and have a rich emotional life. In reality, however, there is an active industry that breeds primates to sell as pets in human homes.

As infants, primates in the pet trade are removed from their mothers years before they would naturally separate, which causes psychological suffering that manifests throughout their entire life. Teeth are often removed for ease of handling, which can limit the foods they can eat. Qualified veterinary care for pet primates can be difficult, if not impossible, to find.

Primates are inquisitive animals whose proper care requires daily mental stimulation and extensive physical activity, which is often impossible for the average household to provide. Primates kept in human homes are rarely, if ever, monitored by animal welfare officials, which means they are often kept in unsuitable living conditions resulting in neglect, mistreatment, and myriad psychological and physical ailments that can lead to death. There are a range of zoonotic diseases that are transmitted by primates and can be harmful, even fatal, to humans.

Once primates reach adolescence, which can be just a few years into a 40+ year lifespan, they inevitably become too unmanageable to handle. Primates can and will bite. They have strong jaws and sharp teeth, and bites can result in significant and potentially fatal injuries to humans. Realizing that living with an adult primate is not sustainable, owners often seek to surrender their pets or are forced to surrender them due to a threat to public safety.

Many primates that were privately owned end up living in roadside zoos, recycled as breeders to produce the next generation of ill-fated pets, or in other abusive situations. In the best cases, former pets may end up in a NAPSA member sanctuary, where they live their remaining years in an enriched environment more typical to their species. Even in sanctuary, former pets often struggle with learning how to socialize with other primates and many exhibit abnormal behaviors for the rest of their lives.

Download a PDF of this statement here.

Performing Primates

The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) is opposed to the use of primates for entertainment. The use of primates in entertainment is harmful and cruel.

As experts in the field of primate care, we respectfully ask the public not to support public events featuring trained monkeys and apes.

While such performances may seem amusing on the surface, the primates used in these spectacles are poorly treated. Although the records of many animal rental operators are generally less than stellar, and training and housing conditions can be incredibly stressful (and often abusive), the simple fact that primates are forced to dress up and perform on cue in a terribly unnatural situation is reason enough to avoid such events.

The entire lifetime of a primate is negatively affected when they are exploited for entertainment. As infants, they are removed from their mothers at a very early age — years before they would naturally separate. They are trained using methods that intimidate and inhibit their innate behaviors. Even then, the intelligence and unpredictable nature of these wild animals means that they often can only be used for a short time as actors before they become too independent, unmanageable, and dangerous. Primates are then deemed useless to the entertainment industry, and sold into situations that range from uncomfortable to downright harmful. The lucky ones are able to spend the remaining years of their life in a primate sanctuary.

NAPSA is a coalition of nine of the leading primate sanctuaries on the continent. In our member sanctuaries, we care for over 800 primates, many of whom were formerly used in entertainment. We see how primates are forever damaged by the work forced upon them, and we look forward to the day when such archaic practices are no longer permitted.

Download a PDF of this statement here.

Monkey Rodoes

The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA), a coalition of nine primate sanctuaries in the U.S. and Canada, which cares for over 800 nonhuman primates, is opposed to “monkey rodeo” shows.
While it may seem amusing on the surface, the monkeys used in these archaic spectacles are poorly treated. Although the records of many monkey rental operators are generally less than stellar, and training and housing conditions can be incredibly stressful (and often abusive), the simple fact that they are forced to dress up and perform on cue in a terribly unnatural situation is reason enough for many people to boycott such events. “Inappropriate portrayals of non-human primates in such a manner have extremely negative consequences for both the welfare of the individual animal and the welfare and conservation concerns of primates in general,” explains Elizabeth Lonsdorf, PhD, Professor of Animal Behavior at Franklin and Marshall College, and former Vice President for Education and Outreach, the International Primatological Society.

The entire lifetime of a primate is negatively affected when they are exploited for entertainment. As infants, they are removed from their mothers at a very early age – years before they would naturally separate. They are trained using methods that intimidate and inhibit their innate behaviors. Even then, the intelligence and unpredictable nature of these wild animals means that they often can only be used for a short time as actors before they become too independent, unmanageable, and dangerous. Primates are then deemed useless to the entertainment industry, and sold into situations that range from uncomfortable to downright harmful. The lucky ones are able to spend the remaining years of their life in a primate sanctuary.

Monkey rodeos are dangerous and frightening to the monkeys, and potentially harmful to the audience as well. Monkeys can carry diseases transmissible to humans, and they can attack. They are wild animals and remain wild, regardless of how many years they have been forced to “train” with a human being.

Increasingly, corporations and other organizations, including sports teams, are wisely and compassionately forswearing the usage of primates to entertain. We encourage the public to avoid monkey rodeos, for the health and safety of the human and nonhuman primates in attendance.

Download a PDF of this statement here.

Service Monkeys

The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) is opposed to the use of monkeys as service animals. There is no justification for forcing monkeys to serve humans.

NAPSA is a coalition of nine of the leading primate sanctuaries on the continent. In our member sanctuaries, we care for over 800 monkeys and apes, many of whom bear the physical and psychological scars of private ownership.

While the relationship between a disabled human and a service monkey may appear mutually beneficial on the surface, the monkeys used in this industry have sacrificed their health and general well-being. Unlike dogs and cats, monkeys are not domesticated animals and cannot be made so in one generation or twenty. Painful training methods, including electric shock packs, are utilized in an attempt to control these naturally independent and inquisitive wild animals. Non-human primates are extremely social animals whose normal development requires the company of others of their own kind. Ideally, primates should live in the wild. Their natural habitats include species-typical social groups that allow them to learn from their families and have a rich emotional life.

These monkeys’ lives of servitude begin in a zoo breeding colony where, as infants, helper monkeys are removed from their mothers years before they would naturally separate, causing psychological suffering that manifests throughout their entire lives. They are subjected to total teeth extraction for “ease of handling”, which drastically limits the foods they can eat and often leads to malnutrition.

Primates living in human homes have complex and demanding needs. Monkeys are inquisitive animals who require daily mental stimulation and extensive physical activity, which is impossible for even an able-bodied person to provide. Primates kept in human homes are rarely monitored by animal welfare officials. Experienced veterinary care for primates is difficult to find. Once primates reach adolescence, which can be just a few years into a 40+ year lifespan, they become unmanageable. Primates can and will bite. They have strong jaws, and bites – even from toothless monkeys – result in painful injuries to humans.

Many public and private organizations have realized the fallacies inherent in the service monkey industry. In 2011, the U. S. Department of Justice ruled that monkeys are not service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not fund service monkeys for veterans. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also oppose primates as service animals.

Download a PDF of this statement here.

Retired Primates Funding

Advocacy Position Statement
Funding for Retired Primates

The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) strongly supports a system that establishes funding from research institutions, at the time a research proposal is developed, that directly contributes towards the construction of sanctuary housing and lifetime care of nonhuman primates retired from scientific research facilities.

It is in the best interest of nonhuman primates to be released to reputable sanctuaries after the conclusion of their use as research subjects instead of being euthanized or sent to an unaccredited animal care facility. Broad public sentiment is behind this notion, and an increasing number of scientists within the biomedical community also agree that retirement to sanctuaries should be the goal for primates used as test subjects.

As the biomedical field works to embrace the “3Rs” of Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement, steadily moving away from medical testing on primates, they should also be looking to the future of the estimated 100,000 primates being held, bred, or used in research labs and encouraging a fourth “R” - Retirement.

Sanctuaries providing lifetime care for animals who are unable to be repatriated to their natural habitats are a fairly new concept; Historically (and still, for the vast majority of modern sanctuaries) the onus to raise funds for the housing and daily care required to give captive nonhuman primates a good life in captivity was entirely on nonprofit sanctuary staff. Scientific institutions should be contributing towards these costs by developing a formalized process for providing lifetime care funding for the retirement of nonhuman primates in their care.

There are some precedents for this model: The Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection Act (CHIMP Act), requires all chimpanzees no longer used in research to be retired to the Federal sanctuary system, with a mechanism in place that funded 90% of the costs to establish sanctuary space and 75% of costs to maintain facilities. Increasingly, research institutions are doing the same for monkeys. Additionally, there are proposed amendments to the Animal Welfare Act that would mandate non-laboratory retirement of all animals when the animals are no longer being used in Federally funded research.

NAPSA supports efforts to retire non-human primates from research institutions to reputable sanctuaries, and we recognize that in order to make large-scale retirement possible for these deserving monkeys, funding mechanisms must be put into place.

For more information:

“AFTER Act of 2019”, United States Congress

“Research Retirement: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Sanctuary,” Kari Bagnall.

“Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection Act”, United States Congress.

“Money for Monkeys and More: Ensuring Sanctuary Retirement of Nonhuman Primates,” Erika Fleury.

“Should Aging Lab Monkeys Be Retired to Sanctuaries?” Science.

“What Enables a University to Work Effectively with a Private Sanctuary to Retire Nonhuman Primates?”, D. Fragaszy

Download a PDF of this statement here.

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