Animal Legal and Historical Center
Great Apes and the Law: A complete resource for the legal status of the Great Apes within the United States
Michigan State University College of Law

General information

Federal and International


Specific State Information

  • Missouri
  • Florida
  • California
  • Texas
Share |
Great Ape News

Hanna Coate (updated by Staff 2012)

Animal Legal & Historical Center
Publish Date:
2011, 2012
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law
Printable Version

Great Ape News


June 5, 2012: Ohio bans ownership of dangerous wild animals, which includes non-human primates. Under SB 310, no person shall possess a dangerous wild animal on or after January 1, 2014 unless he or she is authorized under an unexpired wildlife shelter/propagation permit or other exception. Dangerous wild animals include big cats, some smaller exotic cats, bears, elephants, hyenas, gray wolves, alligators, crocodiles and nonhuman primates other than lemurs. There is a grandfather provision that allows current possessors of prohibited species to keep the animal provided they: register the animal no less than 60 days after the bill's effective date; apply for the applicable permit; microchip the animals; and acquire liability insurance or surety bonds in amounts from $200,000 to $1 million, among other requirements. 

This new Connecticut regulation (effective March 1, 2012) places restrictions on who may import or possess certain categories of wild animals in the state. With regard to Great Apes, a member within the family Hominidae (including, but not limited to, gorilla, chimpanzee and orangutan) is a Category One Animal. No person, except a municipal park, zoo, public nonprofit aquarium, nature center,museum, exhibitor licensed or registered with the United States Department of Agriculture, laboratory registered with the United States Department of Agriculture, or research facility registered with the United States Department of Agriculture, shall import or possess any Category One Wild Animal.

FWS announces 90-day finding on a petition to list all chimpanzees as endangered. Currently, chimps are "split-listed" under the Endangered Species Act, where wild chimps are listed as "endangered" and captive chimps are listed as "threatened." This action does not mean the Service is changing the listing, but undertaking a review to see if the requested action is warranted.


U.S. Senators introduce a bill that would curtail the nonhuman primate pet trade. On July 5, 2011, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced S. 1324, the Captive Primate Safety Act, which would prohibit the interstate sale and transport of apes and other nonhuman primates for use as pets. A similar law, the Captive Wildlife Safety Act (2003), already bans the interstate sale of large exotic cats like lions and tigers. According to sponsor Blumenthal, “[p]rimates and other exotic animals are a public safety risk when kept as pets, as shown by the tragic accident that occurred in my home state of Connecticut. This bill is an important step toward protecting the public and correcting a vague and flawed federal law that fails to prohibit non-human primates as pets. This much needed legislation will close this loophole and ensure that accidents like the chimp attack in Stamford never happen again.” Click here to read the text of the Captive Primate Safety Act (as of August 6, 2011).

U.S. Congress considers legislation that would end invasive research on all Great Apes. On April 13, 2011, bills were introduced in both the House and Senate which, if enacted, would create the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2011. Both S. 810 and H.R. 1513 would prohibit the possession, use, transportation, or breeding of any Great Ape (chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, orangutan, or gibbon) for invasive research. Also, all federally owned or supported Great Apes that are currently being used or held for invasive research purposes would have to be retired and sent to approved sanctuaries within three years of the date of enactment. In addition to addressing the moral implications of using and warehousing apes for invasive biomedical research, the bills’ sponsors estimate that the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act will save taxpayers more than $25 million dollars per year.  As of August 5, 2011, H.R. 1513 has 69 cosponsors and S. 810 has 5 cosponsors. Click here to read the text of S. 810 (as of August 6, 2011). Click here to read the text of H.R. 1513 (pdf - KB) (as of August 6, 2011).

Arkansas considered new legislation that would protect the public health by regulating the private ownership of nonhuman primates. On March 7, 2011, Arkansas Senator Percy Malone (D) introduced SB 901, which would have prohibited the private possession of nonhuman primates with an exception for those animals which were legally possessed on or before August 12, 2011. Individuals claiming that exemption would have had to obtain a local permit and comply with various legal requirements. SB901 passed the Senate unanimously on March 23, 2011. The bill was referred to the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee and died there at the end of the legislative session on April 27, 2011. Click here to read the text of SB 901 (pdf file - 53.77 KB).

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) considers new regulations governing the importation and possession of wild animals, including nonhuman primates. The new regulations (Section 26-55-2) would create several categories of wild animals, which due to their inherent threat to public health and safety, agricultural crops, or native plants and animals, are restricted and regulated by DEP. Chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans would be classified as “Category One Wild Animals,” meaning that they are among the most heavily regulated wild animals. Gibbons and other nonhuman primates would be classified as “Category Two Wild Animals.” The new regulations include a variety of restrictions on the importation and possession of apes and other wild animals and establish certain legal requirements for the facilities that would be allowed to import and possess those animals. DEP held a public hearing on February 15, 2011 and received written comments on the regulations until March 1, 2011. The proposed regulations are available at:

Illinois may strengthen its Dangerous Animals Act (DAA). HB 3457, which was introduced on February 24, 2011 by Rep. Ann Williams, would amend the Illinois Dangerous Animals Act (IL ST CH 720 § 585) to authorize any law enforcement officer or Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agent to seize dangerous animals or primates possessed in violation of the DAA. Under the new law, when a court determines that any violation of the DAA has occurred, the seized animals are automatically forfeited to the state and must be placed in either an accredited zoo or a wildlife sanctuary. In addition, HB 3457 would establish mandatory reporting requirements for veterinarians and establish new investigation protocols for law enforcement agents, DNR agents, and animal control officers. Click here to read the text of HB 3457 (pdf file - 61.02 KB) (as of August 6, 2011).

Missouri considers legislation which would regulate the possession of certain non-human primates. If enacted, the Nonhuman Primate Act (SB 138) would make it generally illegal to own, possess, or breed nonhuman primates of the families homindae (ed. note: this spelling will perhaps be revised to “hominidae” in later versions of the bill) and cercopithecidae without a permit issued by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. (Chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans are members of the family hominidae.) In addition to complying with the permitting requirements, individuals in possession of any regulated species of nonhuman primate would be subject to a variety of other legal requirements. Currently, privately-owned apes must be registered with local law enforcement agency of the county in which they reside. Also, under Missouri’s Wildlife and Forestry law, it is illegal to import, transport, or sell endangered or threatened animals, including all species of apes, without a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Since FWS does not issue permits to import, transport, or sell those apes as pets, those activities are already illegal in Missouri. Click here to read more about the current laws affecting apes in Missouri. Click here to read the text of SB 138 (pdf file - 393.34 KB) (as of August 6, 2011).

New York considers a bill that would strengthen the state’s laws governing the possession of wild animals. A. 2564, which was introduced on January 19, 2011 by Assemblywoman Clark, would amend Section 370 of the Agriculture and Markets law to make it illegal to own, possess, or harbor any wild animal (including any nonhuman primate) or reptile capable of inflicting bodily harm upon a human being. Any person who violates the new law would be guilty of a class E felony. Click here to read the text of A. 2564 (as of August 6, 2011). 

Ohio’s Executive Order 2010-17S and Emergency Administrative rule 1501:31-19-5 which temporarily banned the possession, sale, and transfer of “dangerous wild animals,” including non-human primates, have expired. The state’s Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has enlisted 10 “diverse stakeholder organizations” for a work group which meets monthly to discuss how the state should regulate dangerous wild animals. More information on the work group organizations and monthly meeting summaries are available online, at To read the now expired rule click here (pdf file - 35.99 KB)

The Pennsylvania General Assembly considers a bill which would ban the possession of nonhuman primates and other exotic animals as pets. HB 1398, which was introduced on April 27, 2011 by Rep. Ed Staback and several cosponsors, would amend Sections 2961 – 2965 of Title 34 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to classify nonhuman primates as “exotic wildlife” and restrict the possession of those animals. As amended, the bill would make it illegal to possess nonhuman primates and other designated species of exotic wildlife without a permit issued by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC). Animals that are lawfully possessed prior to January 1, 2012 could be kept with a valid PGC permit. However, after that date, the commission would no longer issue new possession permits, except for certain authorized purposes. Click here to read the text of HB 1398 (pdf file - 74.84 KB) (as of August 6, 2011).

NIH (National Institutes of Health) halted transfer of 186 chimps from NM research facility to another research facility in TX. The chimps will remain there (not subject to invasive research) pending an IOM (Institute of Medicine) analysis to determine the need for chimps in biomedical research. To read the NIH's statement, click here.


Suit filed in Texas case to force keeper of dangerous wild animals to give up possession. In Potter County, Texas, a citizen filed a writ of mandamus to force Carmel Azzopardi to comply with Chapter 822 of the Texas Health & Safety Code's "Dangerous Wild Animals Act." The petitioner contends that Azzopardi, who currently keeps 5 chimpanzees and 8 tigers, failed to report attacks on humans as required under the Act, possessed dangerous wild animals without certificates required by law, failed to maintain liability insurance, and had numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). To read the pleadings filed, click here. (pdf file 1.35 MB). (Photo by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc.)


Top of Page
Share |