As we talked our way through welfare, conservation, legal considerations, political strategies and the influence of external factors on the trade in these animals, it was heartening to find that, without exception, it was agreed that primates should not be kept as pets. With speaker panels and an audience made up of individuals from a variety of professional backgrounds, including the zoo industry, it was refreshing and encouraging to find that those of us who so often find ourselves on "opposite sides of the fence," as it were, were in agreement about our rejection of keeping these complex, highly sentient animals in domestic settings.
We identified a number of obstacles that must be overcome if we are to succeed in ending the cruel trade in these animals and we discussed the mechanisms by which any future prohibition might be achieved. It was a hugely beneficial discussion which I hope will lead to positive action for primates going forward.
But, as with most things, the devil is in the detail. While we all agreed that primates should not be kept as pets, a few dissenting voices argued that some private, or specialist, keepers kept primates in conditions which were equivalent to those of a "good zoo."