Thursday, March 17, 2005
Chimpanzee mauling speeds new bill limiting primate trade
The mauling of a West Covina couple by two chimpanzees helped speed up the introduction of a bill in Congress on Wednesday banning the interstate transport of primates for the pet trade.
The bill had been in the works, but the March 3 attack on LaDonna Davis, 64, and St. James Davis, 62, at a chimp refuge in Caliente triggered the earlier introduction to Congress.
"This gruesome incident highlights the dangers of private citizens interacting with powerful primates,' said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the The Humane Society of the United States, the organization spearheading the bill.
U.S Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and Rob Simmons, R-Conn. introduced the bill in Congress.
The proposed bill prohibits monkeys, marmosets, lemurs, chimpanzees and orangutans from being shipped across state lines for the pet trade. It has no impact on zoos and federally licensed sanctuaries.
LaDonna Davis and her attorney, Gloria Allred, could not be reached for comment.
But West Covina police Chief Frank Wills says the proposed bill is needed.
"This is a timely and prudent move by Congress,' he said. "(The pet trade) is virtually unregulated. Primates are treated like personal property, like a sack of potatoes, and this legislation elevates their status.'
In 2000, the West Covina City Council banned all wild and potentially dangerous animals within its city borders. This was prompted by the August 1998 escape of the Davises' 39- year-old Chimp, Moe, who during his getaway bit two police officers and an animal control officer.
A year later, Moe was removed from the Davises' West Covina home.
While California bans primates as pets, the bill outlaws shipping them out of the state for exotic animal traders to sell.
"California is a significant supply line for the captive primates in the pet trade,' said Richard Farinato of the humane society.
The film industry is step one in a conduit that ships out primates who are are too old, too big or too hard to handle on a set, Farinato said.
Trainers ship them out of state and into the hands of exotic pet dealers, known as "wildlife pimps,' who sell them as pets.
Posted by C. at 10:03 AM