VA General Assembly takes up monkey business

Published: Jan. 29, 2015 at 2:40 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2015 at 5:15 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Should you be allowed to have wild animals as pets? Lawmakers will tackle that topic Thursday. They are debating a new bill that bans you from having monkeys as pets. One Short Pump pastor is saying not so fast.

Dr. Jim Lavender is a former ringmaster who keeps photos of his beloved Capuchin monkey in his office.

"They make wonderful pets and they are also used as assistance animals for people who have handicaps," said Dr. Lavender.

Dr. Lavender admits it is a tall task owning a wild animal. He has a USDA license and is insured through federal and state agencies. He feels those who have wild animals should also have a license, but the Humane Society of the United States is pushing Senate Bill 1315 that would ban monkeys as private pets…even for those who have a USDA license.

"For whatever reason there are no regulations on the ownership of primates," said Matthew Gray with the Humane Society of the United States. "So you can acquire one online or elsewhere and keep it as a pet in your home. We are saying that is unhealthy and unsafe and inhumane for the animal."

Gray notes two chimps in Hanover escaped a few times before they were shipped out of state in 2013. The Senate Agriculture committee will take up SB1315 Thursday afternoon. Stay with NBC12 for updates.

Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.