DORCHESTER students have visited Parliament in order to participate in the debate against people having primates as pets.

Students from Kingston Maurward College travelled to Westminster for the controversial debate on the topic of people keeping primates as their pets.

They joined MPs and celebrities to see the debate, which had been organised by leading primate charity Wild Futures.

The event aimed to raise awareness of the charity’s cause and ultimately succeed in persuading Westminster that an outright ban on primate pet ownership should be enforced in the UK.

The organisers Wild Futures estimate that between 5,000 and 20,000 primates – species including tamarinds, squirrel monkeys, marmosets, lemurs, capuchin and chimpanzees – are currently being kept within this country.

The charity claims many of them are being abused or neglected.

During the event, the students, who are all studying Animal Behaviour and Welfare, were delighted to meet the conservationist and TV personality Bill Oddie.

Oddie, in fact, shunned speaking to the press in favour of talking to them.

He spoke to them at length about their course, the college and Operation Wallacea, an international organisation that helps students work in the conservation industry across the world.

In the end MPs concluded that there was insufficient evidence to change the current legislation regarding pet primates.

However, the students gained invaluable experience from the event.

Lee Read, a tutor at Kingston Maurward and a Wild Futures ambassador, said: “Our students learn about legislation in their course, so this conference was a great way to demonstrate the process in action.

“It was inspiring for us to be with like-minded people discussing a topic we’re all passionate about.”