RSPCA: Man found guilty of monkey neglect and given life ban

Primates as pets should be banned, says RSPCA

A man who kept his pet marmosets on a curtain rail and put them in his pocket as he drove around town has been banned from keeping monkeys for life.

Peter Powell, 53, of Teats Hill Flats, Plymouth was last week found guilty of neglect of Tya, a six month old female marmoset and Rattler, a two-year-old male who have now been happily re-homed.

As well as the life ban he was also given a conditional discharge for two years and made to pay costs of more than £2,000 at Plymouth Magistrates Court on Friday afternoon (November 30).

RSPCA Inspector Becky Wadey visited Powell’s home last year with primate experts from at Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset and found the marmosets living in appalling conditions. A razor blade, cigarette butts and faeces was scattered across the floor and there was no evidence of the specialised food or suitable perching room necessary for their care.

She said: “It was heartbreaking to see these poor little marmosets like this – their fur was sticky with faeces and urine and they were clearly underweight and in a bad state of health. It was later found they had metabolic bone disease – or ricketts

“Tya, the little one, was just crouched inside a dirty tube set up beneath the curtain rail while Rattler was balanced precariously on top of it. It is hard to understand how anyone could think this was an acceptable way to keep an animal.”

It is the RSPCA’s third major case involving neglect or cruelty to a marmoset since January and highlights the problems involved with the growing UK trade in keeping primates as pets.

Between 2001-2010 there were 472 calls about pet primates to the charity’s cruelty line, and nearly half these calls concerned marmosets.

Dr Lisa Riley, primatologist for the RSPCA, said: “These cases show exactly why we are calling for a ban on primates as pets. Marmosets in particular are seen as small and easy to keep but this is far from the truth – they are very hard to look after and totally unsuitable as pets.

“We must stop this growing trade. Breeders and dealers charge large sums of money, and it has become far too easy to pick up a marmoset over the internet, especially since you don’t need a licence to have one.”

Notes to editors

  Images, interviews and filming opportunities with Tya and Rattler available on request. Copyright notice for all images: please note that Monkey World retains the copyright to all images of the park and primates.  Please do not use or distribute the attached for any other purpose than in relation to the attached press release without our express written consent.  Do not archive. Credit copyright to Monkey World.

  Interviews available on request with RSPCA inspectors and primatologists. Further information and interviews available about Rattler and Tya’s current welfare from Monkey World – Ape Rescue.

  Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre and the RSPCA Wildlife Department are embarking on a joint venture to build a new marmoset complex at the Monkey World park in Dorset. This complex will be capable of housing many ex-pet marmosets including six individuals rescued during the three RSPCA prosecutions mentioned above. A new campaign to raise funds for this project will be launched in the near future.

  This conviction is the third this year concerning a pet marmoset. In January Lee Powell and Julie Ann Jones from Stourbridge were found guilty of causing suffering to Mikey the marmoset. Mikey had seven fractures in his legs due to rickets, the result of lack of vitamins in his diet. This meant he could only shuffle himself along the floor and sadly, he had to be put to sleep. In February Patricia Wilson and Duncan Johnson, from Gateshead, pleaded guilty of not providing adequate care to their marmoset, Marley, which they kept in a parrot cage on his own and gave him rides on the family dog’s back. The couple claimed to love their pet, but be unaware of his needs.

 Please find information about Monkey world’s campaign against primates as pets here:

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288  Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email:  Website:

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