NEW YORK, NY, February 19, 2009 -- The following statement was released by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) today concerning the Captive Primate Safety Act and the tragic story surrounding the chimpanzee attack in Connecticut this week:

The news of Travis, the chimpanzee, emerging out of Stamford, CT, is a sad and tragic story for a family, a community, and an endangered great ape. At WCS, we are hopeful that this tragedy will impart a greater understanding of the serious risks assumed when a private individual decides to keep a primate as a pet. WCS opposes the private ownership of primates as pets, as they pose a great potential risk to public health and safety through communicable diseases and through injuries inflicted during unpredictable episodes of aggressive behavior.

At WCS, we continue to advocate for the enactment of the Captive Primate Safety Act, which would impose additional safeguards against private ownership of primates as pets, as well as prohibit the sale and purchase of live great apes (including chimpanzees) in interstate or foreign commerce. This would help curb the illegal pet trade while reducing human-wildlife disease transmission.

We are grateful to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, for her leadership and vision to ensure a sensible approach for both the humane issues and public health problems related to the business of producing and selling primates for the exotic pet trade. Recently, U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) reintroduced this bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. WCS is working closely with members of Congress to ensure the speedy passage of this legislation in the 111th Congress.

We encourage you to call your House and Senate members in Washington at 202-224-3121 and ask that this legislation get signed into law. Help us end the harmful primate pet trade today.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit

SPECIAL NOTE TO THE MEDIA: The Wildlife Conservation Society has several sources available for interviews to discuss the Captive Primate Safety Act and issues surrounding chimpanzees.