Animal Welfare (Primates Licence) Regulations has now been signed into law

Great news! New regulations now make it illegal to keep primates as pets without a license 


There are an estimated 5,000 primates kept as pets in the UK. These intelligent, social, wild animals have complicated needs that simply cannot be met in a domestic environment. They need companionship, space, as well as physical and psychological stimulation, and this can’t be achieved in someone’s living room. 

Thankfully, the Animal Welfare (Primates License) Regulations has now been signed into law, meaning that primates can no longer be kept as pets, and any private keepers must obtain a license that ensures primates are afforded welfare standards which are equal to those of licensed zoos. While this is not the total ban we were hoping for, it is a hugely positive step in the right direction for animal welfare.  

With your help, here’s how we finally made it happen: 


FOUR PAWS UK attended a parliamentary reception highlighting the welfare problems associated with the keeping of primates as pets.

Marmoset behind the bars of a cage

FOUR PAWS UK undertook a private investigation of primate breeders and sellers which highlighted the poor environments these animals are often kept in and the inadequate knowledge of their husbandry needs.


We joined the Protect Primates coalition alongside other animal welfare organisations, as well as launching an online petition calling on the Government to implement a ban on the private keeping of primates as pets.

MP Sue Hayman and campaigners outside UK Parliament holding placards saying primates are not pets

Alongside other coalition members, we handed in a petition with over 55,000 signatures calling for a ban on primates as pets outside the DEFRA offices.


Huge news! The Government commit to banning primates as pets in the Conservative party manifesto.


We responded to a Government consultation on why primates should be banned as pets in the UK.  A whopping 98.7% of responses expressed overwhelming support of a bespoke licensing scheme.

Our Action Plan for Animal Welfare

In their 2021 Action Plan for Animal Welfare, the Government commits to a new licensing scheme for private primate keepers,  and promises that ownership will be phased out for keepers unable to meet strict welfare standards. 

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill is introduced to the House of Commons. Part of this Bill sought to make the necessary provisions to prohibit the keeping of primates without a license.  


After 500 days in limbo, the Kept Animals Bill is tragically dropped in Parliament in May 2023 by the Government, breaking their promises. Instead, the Government said they would take forward the issue of primates as pets as Secondary Legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Alongside other organisations, we demonstrate outside Downing Street due to the dropping of this Bill.

Thankfully, the Animal Welfare (Primates License) Regulations is introduced to the House of Commons in December.


The Animal Welfare (Primates License) Regulations is read in the House of Commons and Lords, and is successfully signed into law.

So, what does this mean for primates in the UK?

This means that once the licensing scheme is brought into force in 2026, primates will no longer be kept as pets or held in private institutions without a license, with keepers having to provide welfare standards in line with those of licensed zoos. 

These new regulations will ensure license holders provide primates with a well-balanced, nutritious diet, adequate indoor and outdoor enclosures with sufficient enrichment, and expert veterinary care. Licenses can only be issued once inspections have taken place, and those who breach licensing conditions can be met with a prison sentence, an unlimited fine and removal of the primate.

Thank you!

This important victory is the result of a decade of campaigning. 

Thanks to the commitment of our supporters, we were able to secure this important legislative change, which will protect primates. 

Thank you for your continued support and all that you do for animals. 

Protesters wearing sheep masks outside a Nike store with a placard saying "Just don't do it: #StopCruelWool".

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Animal Charity - Daisy

Daisy Sopel

Junior Campaigner

Daisy works in the Campaigns Team at FOUR PAWS UK, supporting her colleagues in the delivery of our wild, farm and companion animal campaigns. She has a background in animal behaviour and welfare and has almost a decade’s worth of experience working with sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centres.

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