After decades of campaigning from animal advocates, animals will finally be formally recognized as sentient in UK law. On May 12th, the UK government launched the UK’s first-ever Action Plan for Animal Welfare. It builds on the UK’s existing welfare standards by finally recognizing animals as sentient by law and committing to new welfare measures to protect pets, livestock and wild animals. This is a significant step forward in protecting the welfare and conservation of animals both here and overseas. The Action Plan for Animal Welfare sets out plans, aims and goals across 5 key areas:

  • Sentience and enforcement
  • International trade and advocacy
  • Farm animals
  • Pets and sporting animals
  • Wild animals


Importantly, the Action Plan will legislate to prohibit primates as pets. According to the Action Plan, keepers who are able to provide the welfare standards of licensed zoos will be able to keep their primates under a new licensing regime, subject to conditions and inspections. However, ownership of these exotic animals with complex needs will be phased out for keepers unable to meet these standards. They are also considering whether these restrictions should apply to other wild animals that are kept as pets.


We are looking forward to this legislation becoming law and ensuring that all animals are afforded the care, protection, and respect they deserve.