Federal Issue Brief

 H.R. 4306 /S.1324, Captive Primate Safety Act

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AVMA Position:



Introduced by Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick (PA-8th)/Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), H.R. 4306/S. 1324 would amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to add nonhuman primates to the definition of "prohibited wildlife species" for purposes of the prohibition against the sale or purchase of such species in interstate or foreign commerce.
  • Makes it unlawful for a person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase a live animal of any prohibited wildlife species in interstate or foreign commerce (i.e., for pet trade purposes). 
  • Sets forth exceptions to such prohibition, including, under certain conditions, for: (1) transporting a nonhuman primate to or from a veterinarian; (2) transporting a nonhuman primate to a legally designated caregiver as a result of the death of the preceding owner; and (3) transporting a single primate of the genus Cebus that was obtained from and trained by a charitable organization to assist a permanently disabled individual with a severe mobility impairment. 
  • Sets forth civil and criminal penalties for violations of the requirements of this Act.
  • Extends the authorization of appropriations to carry out such prohibition for FY2011-FY2015.


The interstate and foreign commerce of prohibited wildlife species is already regulated at the international, federal, state, and local levels.


  • The exemption for primates to be assistance animals conflicts directly with the AVMA policy on Nonhuman Primates as Assistance Animals, which states: “The AVMA does not support the use of nonhuman primates as assistance animals because of animal welfare concerns, the potential for serious injury, and zoonotic risks.” 
  • Provisions in the bill may create more loopholes though which aspects of nonhuman primate trade may benefit, thus further pressuring their wild populations and undermining existing conservation efforts.


H.R. 4306: House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs.

S. 1324: Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Ordered to be reported favorably without amendment 6/21/2012

AVMA Contact:

Dr. Whitney L. Miller, Assistant Director, AVMA Governmental Relations at 202-289-3211.