Sen. Jones: Nonhuman primates present disease and other dangers

LANSING— State Sen. Rick Jones on Thursday introduced legislation that would ban private ownership of animals such as moneys, apes and lemurs.

“These are wild animals that can be very dangerous,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The average person does not have the proper training, property or equipment necessary to properly care for these types of animals.”

Senate Bill 669 would outlaw new ownership of nonhuman primate species but would allow for current owners to keep their pets. The legislation would prohibit importation, breeding and sale or transfer of primates in Michigan.

Animals in the legislation include monkeys and apes that can range in size from a lemur weighing as little as one ounce to a gorilla weighing more than 400 pounds.

In 2009 a Connecticut woman was severely mauled and permanently disfigured by a “pet” chimpanzee.

“I am sure there are multiple steps that could have been taken to prevent this woman from being mauled,” Jones said. “However, it comes down to the simple fact that these are not companion animals and they have no place being in private residences.”

In 2000 the Large Carnivore Act was passed by the state Legislature. However, the ownership of animals such as apes remains legal and unregulated in Michigan.

“The close genetic relationship between these animals and humans also allows for diseases to be easily transferred,” Jones said. “These diseases include monkey pox, measles, Ebola and rabies.”