LEMURS living in Cheshire households face an uncertain future.

Measures have been signed into law this week that effectively ban the keeping of primates as pets, the Government has said.

A new licensing scheme means only private owners in England who meet 'zoo-level' welfare standards for their animals will be able to keep them.

The measures come into force on April 6, 2026, requiring all private primate keepers to have a licence from their local authority while ensuring a failure to meet welfare standards can lead to an unlimited fine or removal of the animal.

There is currently one licence for ring-tailed lemurs in Cheshire West and Chester but the council says they have not yet received guidance on how this will be impacted by the new scheme.

Cllr Christine Warner, cabinet member for homes, planning and safer communities, said: “This legislation was signed into law on March 5 and the Secretary of State has yet to issue guidance on its operation.

“There is a proposed transition period until April 2026 when the measures will come into force and the new licences will last for three years instead of two.

“There is currently one Dangerous Wild Animal licence for a lemur in the borough.

“We will continue to work with all our licensed businesses to ensure that high standards of welfare are maintained.”

Northwich Guardian: There is one Dangerous Wild Animal licence for a lemur in Cheshire West and ChesterThere is one Dangerous Wild Animal licence for a lemur in Cheshire West and Chester (Image: Pixabay)

Officials estimate that up to 5,000 primates are currently kept in domestic settings.

However, experts say they cannot be properly cared for in this environment and so it is hoped the new measures will improve their welfare.

Animal welfare minister Lord Douglas-Miller said: “We are proud to have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, including these new restrictions which will help tackle the inadequate conditions that some of these inquisitive creatures are kept in.

“Anyone who fails to provide the same welfare standards as found in a zoo faces a fine and having the primate removed from their care.”

The move has been welcomed by the RSPCA, who say it is 'practically impossible' to meet the needs of monkeys and other primates in a household environment.

The animal welfare charity’s head of public affairs, David Bowles, said: “That’s why this legislation will be a really important moment for animal welfare, ensuring primates can only be kept in an appropriate environment, as we all strive to create a better world for every animal.

“Too often, our dedicated officers are called to properties where monkeys live in the wrong surroundings, eat totally inappropriate diets and are at risk of suffering behind closed doors.

“This new law has the potential to change that.”

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Lemurs aren’t the only dangerous wild animals being kept in Cheshire households.

Alongside the lemurs, Cheshire West and Chester Council has also provided licenses for wild boar, ostriches, lechwe, caimans, lizards, snakes and scorpions.

Meanwhile, in Chester East, there are licenses for two cheetahs and two dwarf caimans, while Warrington is home to two servals and a savannah cat.