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House passes legislation to keep primates out of homes

A year after a Connecticut woman was mauled by a chimp, state legislators are trying to keep similar attacks from happening here. On Friday, March 20, 2010 Illinois lawmakers voted to prohibit people from keeping primates as pets.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are around 15,000 privately owned primates in the United States. HSUS doesn't support keeping primates as pets, with good reason. In addition to carrying viruses and diseases transmittable to humans and vice versa, apes and monkeys are quite powerful – up to seven times stronger than humans. Charla Nash of Connecticut was attacked by her friend's 200 pound pet chimpanzee in February 2009. While she said in an interview on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that she doesn't remember being attacked, trauma to her face and missing hands are reminders.

"Keeping primates as pets threatens the public health and safety as well as animal welfare," Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago), the bill's chief House sponsor, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "There's an attack risk. There's a disease risk."

The bill, voted 105-2 by House representatives, is waiting to be voted on by the state senators. Visit the Illinois General Assembly's Web site to learn more about House Bill 4801.

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