Barbary macaque kept as pet finally rescued

Last week, AAP rescued Barbary macaque Beatrix from a life of solitude. Unfortunately, her story is only one of many. The current revision of the German animal welfare laws is opening an opportunity to adopt a Positive List, listing only animal species suitable as pets. This would prevent the suffering of countless exotic pets like Beatrix and simultaneously tackle multiple health- and safety risks for humans and animals.

After a local zoo closed, 20-year-old Beatrix stayed behind and lived in solitude for many years. When the owner died, relatives inherited Beatrix. Amid their grief, they suddenly had to take care of a complex wild animal. Desperately, they eventually contacted AAP to take in Beatrix. Luckily, we could help. “I am shocked that wild animals like Beatrix are still kept as pets in the EU. We decided to rescue her as soon as possible so she can learn how to live in a social group again,“ explained AAP’s Managing Director David van Gennep.

Barbary macaque Beatrix in transport box.


In nature, Barbary macaques live in big groups spread over mountainous regions in Morocco and Algeria. However, Beatrix was confined to a small enclosure without any contact with other animals. For such a social animal living alone is torture, warping her mind and turning her into an anti-social, stressed or even aggressive animal. Beatrix is old and overweight due to lack of movement, but she has sharp teeth and quite some strength, making handling challenging even for trained professionals.

Many risks

Beatrix’s is only one of many exotic animals suffering from a life as a pet. In many parts of Germany, including the one where Beatrix comes from, most wild animals can legally be kept as pets – even big cats and primates. Too often, they end up in bad and unsafe living conditions. To end the many risks involved with exotic pet keeping for both animals and humans, more and more EU member states choose to implement a new legislative tool. A Positive List developed by independent experts can replace current ineffective bans and complicated regulations. Van Gennep: “A primate is clearly not a suitable pet. The positive list is the most effective, efficient, transparent, and economically viable way to regulate exotic pet ownership. Such a list would have prevented this tragedy.

Precautionary principle

Currently, the German government is revising the animal welfare law. This opens a singular chance to improve the lives of exotic pets fundamentally. Minister of Food and Agriculture, Cem Özdemir, announced his support for a Positive List. Scientific evidence underlines the benefits of such a tool. Therefore, AAP and various German animal welfare organizations like Pro Wildlife strive for fast implementation.

Positive List

In a Positive List, independent experts define suitable pets based on animal health & welfare, public health & safety, and biodiversity/species conservation criteria. This list can be updated when new scientific research supports this. Instead of reacting to accidents and banning certain animal species, a Positive List follows a precautionary principle. It prevents problems before they happen.

AAP director David van Gennep during a conference in Brussels.

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