CURRENT OWNERS and Potential OWNERS please take the time to read this message.
In the recent months there have been a few incidents regarding captive primates, and a few other exotic animals as well. Because incidents involving exotic animals are truly rare, especially when compared to other day to day activities and incidents involving domestic animals, the media tends to create a frenzy around any miniscule incident blowing it out of proportion. Unfortunately, Animal Rights groups who oppose ALL use of ALL animals take advantage of these incidents to call our legistlors to ban exotics. There are already bans in place in about 20 states, and more are introducing bills to ban or severely restrict ownership of exotics. Every incident is another nail in the coffin of exotic animal ownership. We, as responsible owners need to be PROACTIVE, and show our law makers that WE ARE RESPONSIBLE, and bans are not needed. In the end, the one paying the highest price is the monkey, or other exotic, when an incident occurs. Our beloved primates count on us to keep them safe and healthy.
Primates and other exotic animals do not have a federally approved rabies vaccine such as domestic animals do, even though we all know they are effective. In the case of an animal bite or scratch the ONLY way to test the animal for rabies is to KILL the animal and test its brain tissue. Quarantine is an option but government agencies (whose officials are not keen on animal husbandry) rarely opt for this option because they do not want the liability. There has NEVER been a case of a primate infecting a human with rabies in the US, and there has never been a positive result after euthanizing a captive primate after an incident. This does NOT matter to government officials. They will usually follow CDC recomendations to euthanize an animal where there is no approved rabies vaccine. This is ONLY a recomendation, and the CDC leaves the decision up to the state, but this is the route followed in MOST cases.
The ONLY way to prevent this from happening is by keeping our monkeys, and other exotic companions AWAY of the public. As responsible owners we need to be prepared for any situation life may throw at us. NEVER have anyone other than yourself or someone you have PROPERLY trained, have contact with your animals. It is NOT worth risking your animal's LIFE.
IMPORTANT SAFETY GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW
-Build caging so that in the event of your absence any person can care for your animals WITHOUT coming into contact with them.
-Have feeding stations and water changed/refilled from OUTSIDE of the cage.
-Equip caging with lock-out boxes, where the animal can be locked-out out of main cage from OUTSIDE so keeper can enter and clean safely. Again this is to prevent CONTACT with animal by untrained caretaker.
-Equip caging with transfer tunnel so that animal can be transfered from main caging to carrier safely. Lock-out box can double as transfer cage if guillotine door is put on exterior.
-Keep guillotine door transfer cages on property.
-Maintain an emergency plan in a conspicuous place where all animal safety/restraint equipment can be found as well as emergency contact information for who can care for your animal in your absence, detailed steps to take, and important information for each animal (special dietary needs, allergies, habits, etc.) in case of emergency. Perhaps leaving a trusted neighbor or relative with a copy of your evacuation plan to give to emergency response personnel is a good idea.
-Require those caring for or handling your animals to have their rabies vaccine current. In the event that there is a bite or scratch, there would be a higher chance of quarantine versus euthanasia if human is current on their rabies vaccine.
-Keep current records for all your animals (Veterinary visits, Vaccine records, aquisition/purchase documents from USDA breeder, current permits, etc)
-Perimeter fencing or barriers, especially in medium sized and larger animals
-Place SIGNS on caging warning visitors NOT TO TOUCH!
-Do NOT allow strangers to touch your animals.
-Keep animals under lock and key, and always DOUBLE CHECK enclosure doors/locks to be sure they are secure when leaving cage.
-In the case of large animals which have potential to severly harm human life if escaped, keep equipment on hands to subdue animal quickly (dart guns, etc)
I know that some of this sounds like it is not needed because your animals will never bite, or it is just overkill because you only have small animals such as squirrel monkeys or marmosets etc. We must remember they are ANIMALS. ANY animal with teeth can bite, including dogs, cats etc. The difference between a dog biting and a monkey or other exotic is that dogs have an APPROVED rabies vaccine so dogs will not be killed, where as other exotics will be KILLED. It does not matter that the bite was minimal. Bites do not require medical attention to require euthanasia. A SCRATCH is all that is needed to require the killing of your animal for rabies testing. Even an ACCIDENTAL SCRATCH where the animal showed no aggression! THIS HAS HAPPENED! Following the steps above will ensure the safety of your companion as well as the public.
PLEASE KEEP YOUR MONKEYS AND OTHER EXOTICS AWAY FROM PUBLIC!
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