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Action for Primates

Long-tailed macaques, photo by Sarah Kite

News Releases

1 December 2020: As Mauritius celebrates travel awards, animal welfare groups remind tourists and travel companies about cruelty to Mauritius monkeys

Mauritius is famous for its beaches, tropical climate, heritage sites and wildlife. Last month, the island picked up four awards at the 2020 World Travel Awards (1). There is, however, a dark side to this paradise island of which many holidaymakers may not be aware - the country's role in the cruel global trade and use of its monkeys for research.

A recent proposal to expand the non-human primate breeding industry has caused much controversy and has led animal protection groups Action for Primates and Progress Science Mauritius to appeal to tourists and travel companies to raise concerns with the Government of Mauritius and the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA) about the treatment of the country's monkey population. The proposal submitted by Biosphere Trading, one of the country's many non-human primate breeding companies, to increase its capacity ten-fold by capturing up to 1,000 wild monkeys from the forests of Mauritius, is currently under consideration (2).

Mauritius is already one of the world's largest suppliers of monkeys for research. In 2017, it accounted for 21% of the world's export of non-human primates (3). There are several companies involved in the breeding and export of long-tailed macaques for research purposes; a business reportedly to be worth over one billion rupees a year. In 2019, these companies exported over 7,000 monkeys to the USA, Canada, France, the UK, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

A further controversy is the development of non-human primate research laboratories on the island. One such facility is a contract testing laboratory called Cynvivo (4). LCL-Cynologics, another of the breeding and export farms in Mauritius, is a major shareholder and supplies monkeys directly to Cynvivo to be used in tests for various client companies, almost certainly overseas.

Action for Primates and Progress Science Mauritius point to the awareness of ecological and moral issues such as conservation, climate change, human rights and animal welfare, that has been growing rapidly over the past few years. In Mauritius itself, the oil-spill disaster as well as the deliberate sinking of the Wakashio wreck caused an international outcry.

Examples from other countries have shown that animal welfare concerns expressed by tourists make a difference with travel operators. Blackfish, the documentary film that raised concerns about the treatment of SeaWorld's animals and trainers, led to a decline in attendance, falling profits and a decline in SeaWorld's stock market value (5). Segments of the tourism industry have also been responding to moral concerns raised by customers about the treatment of animals in certain countries. For example, Intrepid Travel removed elephant rides from its itinerary (6) and STA Travel has prohibited elephant ride tours, visits to the Tiger Temple in Thailand and trips to SeaWorld in Orlando and San Diego (7).

As Mauritius works to boost its image as a popular destination following the impact COVID-19 had on its tourist trade, Action for Primates and Progress Science Mauritius urge tourists and travel companies to help make Mauritius a paradise for everyone, including the monkeys, by calling for an end to the cruelty and suffering.

NOTES: Further information and photographs of long-tailed macaques in Mauritius available on request.

Action for Primates:
E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org
Web site: http://actionforprimates.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/actionforprimates/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Action4Primates

Progress Science Mauritius/NO Animal Experiments:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProgressScienceMauritius.NoAnimalExperiments/

References:

  1. https://www.mymauritius.travel/articles/mauritius-wins-four-awards-2020-edition-world-travel-awards
  2. https://defimedia.info/controverse-perspective-pour-une-ferme-de-7-500-singes-de-laboratoire
  3. https://oec.world/en/visualize/tree_map/hs07/export/show/all/010611/2017/
  4. Cynvivo Website: http://2.bookfast.co.za/
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/04/seaworld-shares-sink-record-low-attendance-falling
  6. https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/change-elephant-rides/
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/16/sta-travel-ends-unethical-animal-trips-elephants-seaworldReferences
9 November 2020: Invitation to tour monkey farm criticised as meaningless public relations exercise

An invitation to music artists to visit Bioculture, one of the primate breeding companies, is been criticised by Progress Science Mauritius and Action for Primates as being simply an exercise in public relations that will fail to address the many key concerns surrounding the trade in long-tailed macaques from Mauritius. The invitation for a visit on the 11th November follows publicity surrounding several well-known Mauritian artists (1) who are supporting a campaign raising awareness about the plight of monkeys in Mauritius. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the artists, under the banner, 'My Voice for our Monkeys', highlight their concerns regarding an application by another primate company, Biosphere Trading, to expand its facility ten-fold as well as to capture up to 1,000 macaques from the wild (2).

Progress Science Mauritius and Action for Primates agree that such an invitation will be for a sanitized visit that will fail to cover the various stages of the brutal trade in primates for research. For example, the ongoing capture of monkeys from the wild (the government has already given Biosphere Trading permission to capture up to 1000 individuals), a practice that is universally criticized by official bodies and organisations, including the European Union. The cruelty and suffering that will be inflicted on monkeys, including their removal from forest homes and families to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives in concrete pens to produce babies who will be taken from them at around 10 months of age.

There can be no argument that diminishes the extreme stress and trauma these monkeys will endure by being exported overseas in the cargo holds of aeroplanes and the suffering and death that awaits them in laboratories. Biosphere Trading admits in its application that the monkeys will be exported to the USA and Canada, and as such ...will inevitably entail lengthy transit times, at its maximum reaching upwards of 48 hours.

The majority of monkeys will be used in experiments to assess the toxicity of drugs and chemicals. In these 'poisoning' tests, the monkeys are dosed with a substance through injection or forced ingestion to see the adverse effects of poisoning. Monkeys can also be deliberately brain damaged or have electrodes implanted into their brains and be forced to carry out repetitive tasks often through the use of fluid deprivation. Footage taken of Mauritian monkeys inside one German laboratory has shown the distress and suffering experienced by these animals (Click here to view video).

Progress Science Mauritius and Action for Primates are shocked and disappointed that, in spite of the serious animal welfare concerns surrounding the trapping of non-human primates from the wild, the Mauritius government is allowing this cruel practice to continue. The two groups remain hopeful that the government will respond to the genuine concerns held by more and more people in Mauritius and across the world by refusing the Biosphere Trading's application for expansion and capture of more monkeys from the wild (3).

Further, Action for Primates and Progress Science Mauritius are concerned by the various attempts to 'demonise' the long-tailed macaques in Mauritius, encouraging people to have a negative attitude towards them and to view them as a problem with trapping and killing as 'solutions'. Regardless of one's attitude, the species deserves to be treated humanely and not killed or captured for research purposes.

Progress Science Mauritius and Action for Primates will continue to speak out against this cruelty and stand up for these monkeys who have been exploited and abused for too long on Mauritius.

Further information and photographs of long-tailed macaques in Mauritius and contacts for interviews available on request.

Action for Primates:
E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org
Web site: http://actionforprimates.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/actionforprimates/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Action4Primates

Progress Science Mauritius/NO Animal Experiments:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProgressScienceMauritius.NoAnimalExperiments/

References:

  1. Artists include Natty Gong, Mr Love, El Plaga, Michael Gino De Virassamy, J SummerSoul, Kan Chan Kin, Sivaramen Marday and radio host Florent Didier Marcel.
  2. Open letter to Mauritius: http://actionforprimates.org/resources/Mauritius_monkey_trade_open_letter.pdf
  3. Letter to Mauritius Prime Minister: http://actionforprimates.org/resources/Letter_petition_Hon_Pravind_Jaugnauth_Prime_Minister_Mauritius_Oct_2020.pdf
23 October 2020: Music artists speak out in support of the monkeys in Mauritius amid rising international concern

Well known Mauritian artists, including Natty Gong, Mr Love, El Paga, Michael Gino De Virassamy, J SummerSoul, Kan Chan Kin and radio host Florent Didier Marcel have joined the campaign to raise awareness about the plight of monkeys in Mauritius on social media and signed an open letter to Prime Minister, The Hon Pravind Kumar Jugnauth (1).

The campaign run by Action for Primates and Progress Science Mauritius/NO Animal Experiments is appealing to the government of Mauritius to refuse an application by Biosphere Trading, a company in Tamarin Falls, to capture wild monkeys and to expand its monkey farm.

Biosphere Trading is one of several companies in Mauritius that breeds and exports long-tailed macaques, making the country one of the world's largest exporters of non-human primates for the global research industry; a business reportedly to be worth over one billion rupees a year. In just the first six months of 2020, almost 5,000 monkeys were exported from Mauritius. The monkeys are primarily exported to the USA, Canada and Europe, including France, the UK, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

Other international organisations including One Voice in France and Animal Rights in the Netherlands and Belgium have joined the campaign. A joint petition has already received several thousand signatures and a protest will be held outside the Embassy of Mauritius in Brussels on the 27th October.

Jacqueline Talbot, spokesperson for Progress Science Mauritius/NO Animal Experiments stated: An awareness of ecological and ethical issues such as conservation, climate change, human rights and animal welfare, has been growing rapidly over the past few years. The Mauritius oil-spill disaster as well as the deliberate sinking of the Wakashio wreck caused an international outcry. Mauritius tourism, which has already suffered greatly due to the Covid-19 closure, is likely to be impacted further if the application to capture wild monkeys for breeding and export for vivisection is granted. Travelers today choose their destination more consciously and Mauritius might just find itself crossed off their list this time.

Sarah Kite, spokesperson for Action for Primates stated: With the growing awareness of the detrimental impact humans have on the planet and its wildlife, it is more important than ever that we reassess the way we treat non-human primates, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. The long-tailed macaque has been living on Mauritius for over 400 years, and over time has become part of the ecosystem. They deserve protection and to be treated humanely, not killed or captured for research purposes.

Further information and photographs of long-tailed macaques in Mauritius available on request.

Action for Primates:
E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org
Web site: http://actionforprimates.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/actionforprimates/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Action4Primates

Progress Science Mauritius/NO Animal Experiments:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProgressScienceMauritius.NoAnimalExperiments/

Reference:

  1. http://actionforprimates.org/resources/Mauritius_monkey_trade_open_letter.pdf

NOTES:

1. Non-human primates are intelligent and highly social animals. Capturing and removing them from their homes and family and social groups is cruel and inflicts substantial suffering and distress and can result in injuries and even death. Several official bodies and organisations, including the European Union and the International Primatological Society, recognise the suffering involved in the capturing of wild non-human primates. For example:

The capture of non-human primates from the wild is highly stressful for the animals concerned and carries an elevated risk of injury and suffering during capture and transport. In order to end the capturing of animals from the wild for breeding purposes, only animals that are the offspring of an animal which has been bred in captivity, or that are sourced from self-sustaining colonies, should be used in procedures after an appropriate transition period. A feasibility study should be carried out to that effect and the transition period adopted if necessary. The feasibility of moving towards sourcing non-human primates only from self-sustaining colonies as an ultimate goal should also be examined.
(Reference: 2010/63/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (Paragraph 19) Directive: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2010/63/oj)

...the capture of nonhuman primates from the wild is stressful for the animals and increases the suffering, risk of injuries, spread of disease and even death during capture, storage and transport.
(Reference: "Trade in Primates Captured in the Wild" International Primatological Society: http://www.internationalprimatologicalsociety.org/TradeInWildPrimates.cfm

2. Although now well-established in Mauritius, the long-tailed macaque is considered a 'pest' species and is widely persecuted across the country, with population 'management' or conflicts with people often cited to excuse or justify their ill-treatment. Currently, there appears to be no management plan in place to prevent or humanely resolve conflict situations that may arise in communities when often human-caused changes force the monkeys to seek new places to live or go in search of food. Educational programs are vital to raise public awareness for controlling human interaction and preventing conflicts with long-tailed macaques. For example, although wild animals are typically fearful of humans, if people feed or in any way tolerate or encourage the presence of the monkeys, the animals become less fearful. This is when conflicts can occur.

24 September 2020: Animal welfare groups call for an end to Australian charity funding of baby monkey vision experiments

Humane Research Australia (HRA) and Action for Primates are calling for an end to the funding of baby monkey vision experiments by the Australian charity, the Brien Holden Vision Institute Ltd.

Myopia (near-sightedness) research partly funded by the Australian charity involving the rearing of infant monkeys in low intensity lighting has recently been published (1). The work was carried out at the University of Houston in the USA, in collaboration with researchers from the Brien Holden Institute. Seven two-week-old infant rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) were used. The infants had been removed from their mothers and were subjected to maternal and social deprivation throughout the experiment. Forcibly separating infants from their mothers, and then depriving them of each other, is extremely cruel and an extremely distressing experience for mother and infant.

At around 24 days of age, the infants were transferred to an area in which there was reduced lighting. The infants remained under these conditions (except for brief removals to do measurements on ocular development) until they were about 10 months or 310 days of age. The overhead lighting in the room during 'daylight' hours was only 55 lux, but the amount of light as measured at the fronts of the cages was only seven to 36 lux; light levels were just above twilight light levels typically encountered outdoors. This is completely aberrant for the normal daytime habitat in which rhesus monkeys live. These infant monkeys, therefore, had to endure not only the fear and distress of social and maternal deprivation in an environment harmful to their well-being, but also the near-dark conditions. Control data were acquired from age-matched monkeys who were reared similarly, but under typical laboratory lighting.

For the various tests to measure ocular development, the infants were injected with a sedative and their heads were covered with a light-blocking cloth while they were transferred to the measuring facility to collect data, including inserting contact lenses. These tests were carried out every two weeks for the first seven months, then every month until the end of the experiment. No information was provided as to the fate of the seven infant monkeys.

The authors found that dim-light rearing of these monkeys did not result in myopia, rather it subtly altered ocular structure and optical refraction (bending of light). No tests were done to determine if any of this had any effect on vision for these individuals; all the measurements were physical, not functional, in nature.

The data derived from this inhumane treatment of infant monkeys are essentially valueless. The authors even acknowledged this: A limitation of our study was that the illumination level, as well as the duration of exposure, was not representative of real-world scenarios. In addition, whereas transitioning between relatively lower and higher ambient lighting frequently takes place in daily life; our subjects were deprived of such opportunities.

Rachel Smith, Chief Executive Officer, of HRA, stated: Australian charities should be held accountable for the research they are funding. I am sure donors would be shocked to learn of the cruelty their donations are contributing to, with no translatable value to human patients. HRA encourages donors to consult the Humane Charities List to ensure they avoid funding animal research such as this.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Ophthalmologist and spokesperson for Action for Primates, stated: Research has already been done in people to show that an increase in ambient light protects children from developing myopia [see reference 2]. Why, therefore, were these infant macaques deliberately caused to suffer? This is work simply designed to continue using non-human primates as 'models' for human refractive error development, as alluded to by the authors. It is of no medical value to human patients, but of enormous psychological cost to the monkeys and should be discontinued. The authors, however, advocate the carrying out of further similar research using non-human primates, something that should not be allowed, not just because of its inhumanity, but also because of its lack of scientific credibility.

Vision research on infant macaques, involving some of the US and Australian authors of this study, has been carried out over many years, also publicly funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, funds from the Vision Cooperative Research Centre in Australia (Brien Holden Vision Institute) and the University of Houston Foundation. One such study involved rearing infant monkeys with red filters over one or both eyes (3). The filters were held by goggle helmets that provided monocular and binocular fields of view. Except for brief periods needed for routine cleaning and maintenance, the monkeys wore the helmets continuously from about 25 to 146 days of age.

ENDS

Humane Research Australia (HRA) is a not for profit organisation that challenges the use of animal experiments and promotes more humane and scientifically-valid non animal methods of research. The Humane Charities List, a guide to health-related charities that do not fund or engage in animal research, is an HRA initiative.
CEO Humane Research Australia: Rachel Smith
E-mail: rachelsmith@humaneresearch.org.au
Website: https://www.humaneresearch.org.au/

Action for Primates is a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns on behalf of non-human primates.
Website: http://actionforprimates.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/actionforprimates/
Twitter: @Action4Primates
E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org

References:

  1. She, Zhihui; Hung, Li-Fang; Arumugam, Baskar; Beach, Krista M. and Smith, Earl L. 2020-08-07. "Effects of low intensity ambient lighting on refractive development in infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)" Vision Research 176():48-59.
  2. Published under Creative Commons license
  3. Hua, Wen-Juan; Jin, Ju-Xiang; Wu, Xiao-Yan; Yang, Ji-Wen; Jiang, Xuan; Gao, Guo-Peng and Tao, Fang-Biao. 2015-05-01. "Elevated light levels in schools have a protective effect on myopia" Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics : The Journal of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians (Optometrists) 35(3):252-262.
  4. Smith, Earl L.; Hung, Li-Fang; Arumugam, Baskar; Holden, Brien A.; Neitz, Maureen and Neitz, Jay. 2015-10-01. "Effects of Long-Wavelength Lighting on Refractive Development in Infant Rhesus Monkeys" Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 56(11):6490-6500.
23 September 2020: Call for an end to disturbing womb transplantation research on baboons at the Institute of Primate Research in Kenya

Action for Primates, a non-governmental organisation that campaigns on behalf of non-human primates worldwide, is calling for an end to the use of baboons in uterine autotransplantation research at the Institute of Primate Research (IPR) in Nairobi, that caused the death of three of the animals (1).

The work, which was approved by the institutional ethical committee at the IPR, involved researchers from facilities in California, Texas and Mexico, and was self-funded by one of the authors, something rarely done. The research was referred to as a pilot study, which means further similar research on baboons is likely.

The purpose of the research was to develop surgical techniques in uterine autotransplantation (donor and recipient the same) in baboons. Eight adult female baboons were used, but there was no mention of the species or the source of the animals, although the IPR has previously carried out research on wild baboons captured in Kenya. The reproductive tract was surgically removed from each of the baboons and then replaced and sutured back into the same animal. The animals were subjected to an average of about six hours of surgery.

Shockingly, three of the baboons died post-surgery, two from severe dehydration and one from postoperative gastric aspiration (taking stomach contents into the lungs after vomiting). Both these conditions suggest that the animals were not adequately monitored during or after the surgery. More information can be found on our Web site.

The baboons were followed up for only one month after surgery, before being donated back to the primate centre. The researchers claimed that, because of the limited goals of the study (only evaluating surgical technique), there was no need for long-term follow up of the animals. Aside from following up from an animal welfare perspective, an important part of assessing the effectiveness of surgical technique is to determine if it allows for normal function. As it stands, there is no way of knowing whether the animals had any complications later, or if their reproductive organs would have even been functional.

Also, because this was autotransplantation, the important issue of rejection of tissue from a different donor was not addressed. The authors acknowledged this as a limitation of the work and admitted that donor-to-recipient transplantation would be more characteristic of true human uterine transplants, rather than the donor and recipient being the same person.

Further, donor-to-recipient uterine transplantation is already being done in people (2), despite the moral dilemmas associated with this surgery and which the authors of the baboon study acknowledged. For example, uterine transplantation surgery is not needed for preservation of human life and other options are available such as adoption and surrogacy, where the potential morbidity associated with uterine transplantation for the patient, foetus and live donor is absent.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California and adviser to Action for Primates stated: This was complex surgery and there is no doubt that these baboons would have suffered greatly, resulting in the death of three of them to develop a surgical technique in baboons which has no relevance to the baboons or human beings. The fact that this research was referred to as a pilot study by the authors implies that further similar research on baboons is likely. This 'research' should never have been approved. I am concerned that the 'institutional ethical committee' at the IPR are not doing a proper job of protocol review. Adding to this is the issue of self-funding of the work. In my many years of experience with reviewing and publishing scientific work, I have never seen an instance of this.

References:

  1. Han, Michelle N.; Ramirez, Hugo; Ruvalcaba, Luis; Contreras, Juan Luis; Nyachieo, Atunga and Ramirez, Edwin. 2019-10-01. "Uterine Autotransplantation in the Nonhuman Primate With Preservation of the Uterine and Ovarian Vascular Pedicles" Reproductive Sciences 26(10):1329-1335.
  2. Kristek, Jakub; Johannesson, Liza; Novotny, Robert; Kachlik, David and Fronek, Jiri. 2020-08-24. "Human uterine vasculature with respect to uterus transplantation: A comprehensive review" The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research ePub.
9 September 2020: Concerns that shortage of monkeys could result in increased demand for Mauritius monkeys

Action for Primates is concerned that a purported shortage of non-human primates for research may lead to an increase in demand for long-tailed macaques from Mauritius. A news media report in The Atlantic (1) cited an increase in demand for monkeys for Covid-19 research coupled with a massive drop in the supply of rhesus and long-tailed macaques from China. In 2019, 60% of all monkeys imported into the USA were from China.

Mauritius already exports long-tailed macaques to the USA to be used in research and, in 2018, over 27% of its primate exports went to the USA (2). The concern now is that there could be a sharp increase in the export of these monkeys during 2020.

The Atlantic article also reported that the shortage of monkeys is apparently forcing scientists to think creatively about how to reduce the number of animals needed for research, while some pharmaceutical companies have started human trials on Covid-19 vaccines before the monkey studies have concluded, and others are wondering if certain studies can be skipped altogether to go straight into human-safety trials.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine and representative of Action for Primates, stated: With the current shortage of monkeys and an unstable future in terms of a reliable supply of them, researchers should use this as an opportunity to find innovative, non-animal and human-relevant ways of solving the Covid-19 crisis rather than simply looking for another source of monkeys. We are an intelligent and capable species. If we use our intelligence compassionately, we can find ways to answer the questions we want without having to harm and kill non-human primates (or any non-consenting being).

Action for Primates has also raised the plight of the monkeys in Mauritius with Liverpool Football Club following the Club's announcement that it had agreed a new global partnership with the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Economic Development Board Mauritius as the Club's official tourism and economic development partner. A joint Action for Primates and Vivisection Exposed petition (3) to Liverpool FC has, to date, received over 81,000 signatures calling on the Club to use its influence to help the monkeys of Mauritius by urging the country to stop its involvement in the trade in non-human primates for research.

Action for Primates is a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns on behalf of non-human primates.
Website: http://actionforprimates.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/actionforprimates/
Twitter: @Action4Primates
E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org

References:

  1. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/08/america-facing-monkey-shortage/615799/
  2. https://oec.world/en/visualize/tree_map/hs07/export/mus/all/1010611/2018/
  3. https://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/370/553/392/liverpool-football-club-urge-mauritius-to-end-its-trade-in-primates-for-vivisection/
19 August 2020: Baby monkeys killed in human infant formula research

Action for Primates has condemned research involving infant formula, in which baby monkeys were killed, as a cruel and callous waste of life. In the recently published research, twenty-three female rhesus macaques suffered the trauma and loss of having their babies taken from them and 23 baby monkeys were purposefully killed at 6 months of age for a human infant formula that is already on the market. The study involved Abbott Nutrition infant formula products and was funded by Abbott Nutrition (a division of Abbott, the global US health care company, with an office in the UK) and the US taxpayer (National Institutes of Health).

Sarah Kite, spokesperson for Action for Primates stated: People will be shocked to learn that a company producing human infant formula would actually fund research that involves subjecting mother monkeys and their infants to such suffering and emotional and psychological distress. Action for Primates is calling on Abbott Nutrition to show compassion for all primates – whether human or non-human – and end any funding and involvement in research on monkeys.

The research was carried out at the Oregon National Primate Research Center in the USA. At birth, the infant monkeys were assigned to one of three trademarked diets: Similac Advance with OptiGRO (eight monkeys), Similac Advance base formulation (seven monkeys) and a combination of monkey breast milk and Fiber-Balanced Monkey Diet 5000 [LabDiet] (eight monkeys). The research was carried out to look at different nutrients. All 15 infants who were fed the commercial human infant formula were removed from their mothers at one day old and kept in what was euphemistically called a "nursery". The eight infants who had the combination diet were allowed to be with their mothers for six months before being taken away and killed with the other 15 individuals. Forcibly separating infants from their mothers, and then depriving them of each other, is an extremely distressing experience for mother and infant, and one of the cruelest situations to which primates, including human ones, can be subjected.

In addition to the inhumane nature of the research, Action for Primates believes that the results cannot be extrapolated to human infants whose metabolism, nutrient requirements and, in particular, social environment, would be completely different. Further, the Abbott Nutrition products are already in use for human infants and data for people have been and could continue to be derived from sophisticated studies on infants.

A petition calling on Abbott Nutrition to end funding and involvement in research on monkeys has been launched: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/234/190/499/call-on-abbott-nutrition-to-stop-funding-cruel-experiments-on-baby-monkeys/

Notes to Editor:

Photographs of free-living rhesus macaques with their infants are available on request.

Action for Primates campaigns on behalf of non-human primates worldwide. Our aims include raising awareness about the plight of and threats to non-human primates around the world; promoting compassion for and understanding of non-human primates; and engaging and encouraging individuals and organisations to speak out and campaign on behalf of non-human primates. (http://actionforprimates.org); Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates/ Twitter: @Action4Primates; Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/actionforprimates/
E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org

Reference:

3 August 2020: Tragic portraits of non-human primates used as photo props in captive wildlife tourism
Bornean orangutan used for 'entertainment'; photo credit Any Jones / Moving Animals
Bornean orangutan as 'entertainment'
photo credit Any Jones / Moving Animals

Haunting photographs of a young orangutan dressed in boxing shorts and an infant gibbon, pictured posing for selfies with laughing tourists in Thailand, highlight the tragic plight of non-human primates in 'entertainment' and the threats which orangutans, gibbons and other endangered species face from captive wildlife tourism.

These photographs have been released by Moving Animals and Action for Primates as part of the global campaign to end the use of captive non-human primates and other wildlife in tourism and 'entertainment'. This is particularly prevalent across SE Asia, especially in Thailand. Tourists and travel companies, however, are unaware of the suffering and mistreatment of the animals behind the scenes to provide people with close encounters and selfies for their amusement. This 'entertainment' comes at a terrible cost for non-human primates. Whether bred in captivity or captured from the wild, non-human primates suffer physically and psychologically from being separated from their families and social groups, kept in unnatural and poor conditions, unable to move and behave naturally, dressed in clothing, forced to 'entertain' and be in close contact with people.

Non-human primates are coerced into carrying out unnatural tasks to amuse tourists. Methods used usually involve physical threats and violence or deprivation of food or water to cause fear, intimidation, and a feeling of helplessness or else the animals will not 'perform' or will be too dangerous to handle.

Great apes, including orangutans and gibbons, are threatened with extinction, and listed as Appendix I on CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Major threats to wild orangutans include habitat loss through deforestation (forests cut down for timber, palm oil and plantations) and illegal hunting with adults killed and sold as meat and infants trafficked or sold as 'pets' or for 'entertainment'.

In addition to the cruelty and suffering endured by captive non-human primates, there are also health risks to people during close interactions in wildlife tourism. Tourists are encouraged to cuddle the individuals or put them on their shoulders. This can be very stressful for the animals, especially when it goes on for hours a day with the animals being handled by multiple people. These encounters, however, are also unsafe for people who may get bitten or clawed. Of more recent concern, as emphasised by the coronavirus pandemic, are the dangers of disease spill-over from wildlife to people because of the capture, handling and close contact with wild animals. The stress of being in captivity and in close contact with people can cause the release of latent infectious organisms, increasing the threat to people.

Amy Jones, from Moving Animals, who took the photographs, stated: With orangutans and gibbons facing the threat of extinction over the next few decades, portraits like these are made all the more heart-breaking. Even when there are so few left of these incredible and unique species, we continue to hunt them, torment them, and subject them to captivity - just for profit and 'entertainment'.

Sarah Kite, spokesperson for Action for Primates, stated: We are calling for an end to the cruel exploitation of all wild animals, not just non-human primates, in tourism and 'entertainment'. It is unacceptable that these intelligent and sentient beings should be treated simply as photo props for our amusement. The future must be wildlife-friendly for the benefit of wildlife and people.

Contact information:

Photo copyright and credit for the photographs: Amy Jones / Moving Animals

Moving Animals is a visual media project that publishes its investigations with major media outlets around the world.
Web site: https://www.movinganimals.org/
E-mail: amy@movinganimals.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialmovinganimals
Twitter: @moving_animals
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moving.animals/

Action for Primates is a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns globally on behalf of non-human primates.
Web site: http://actionforprimates.org/
E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates/
Twitter: @Action4Primates

23 July 2020: DENR urged to protect long-tailed macaque following new global assessment of its conservation status

Action for Primates, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns worldwide on behalf of non-human primates, has written to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) alerting it to the new global assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species for the conservation status of the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis). The status of this species has increased to 'Vulnerable' with a decreasing population trend (1). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the conservation status of species.

Action for Primates is urging the DENR to take this new assessment into consideration and to refuse any application for permits to capture wild long-tailed macaques in the Philippines.

According to the IUCN assessment, it is thought that the long-tailed macaque has suffered a drastic decline in numbers (over 30%) throughout its range in the last 36-39 years. The IUCN assessment states that ignorance and lack of conservation action on an apparent 'abundantly' seen species will continue to impact its status in the future and further reductions in populations are likely to occur. The assessment states that The species is hunted for food and captured live for research and sport hunting and that In the Philippines, the species is subject to a high level of hunting, where it is taken for local consumption and hunted for sport.

The IUCN assessment also acknowledges that, although long-tailed macaques are widely distributed and adaptable to habitat changes, the excessive hunting and persecution due to negative interactions with humans throughout its range is a cause for concern.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California and representative of Action for Primates, stated: With the increased concern regarding the conservation status of the long-tailed macaque, it is even more imperative that the DENR take measures to protect the population of long-tailed macaques in the Philippines and refuse any permits that would allow the animals to be captured from the wild. With the growing awareness of the impact human activities are having on the planet and its inhabitants, it is more important than ever that we look for humane ways in which we can coexist with other species, rather than simply kill them when the situation becomes 'inconvenient' for us.

There is widespread concern for the plight of the long-tailed macaque in the Philippines. An open letter was recently submitted to the DENR by the Asia for Animals Coalition (2). The letter called on the DENR to deny any permits that would allow the capture of macaques, and instead, adopt a humane and sustainable approach to deal with any human-macaque conflict. The Coalition is a network of hundreds of animal protection, wildlife and conservation organisations, including some of the world's leading animal protection organisations such as Animals Asia Foundation, Born Free Foundation, Humane Society International, World Animal Protection, RSPCA UK and Blue Cross of India, representing millions of people around the world.

A joint Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)/Action for Primates petition, which is still open, has to date been signed by over 81,000 people (3). The petition appeals to the DENR to protect wild populations of Macaca fascicularis and to adopt a humane approach to deal with any human-macaque conflict, rather than issuing permits for the animals to be captured for research or any other purpose.

ENDS

Action for Primates is a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns globally on behalf of non-human primates.
Web site: http://actionforprimates.org/
E-mail:info@actionforprimates.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates/
Twitter: @Action4Primates

References:

  1. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/12551/17949449
  2. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-bEeluK9-xB7M8Kb63PF3L7MxMxQlbpd/view
  3. https://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/661/180/303/urge-the-philippines-government-to-deny-the-capture-of-wild-monkeys-for-research-purposes/
22 July 2020: Haywood County applauded for maintaining its ordinance that prevents the keeping of non-human primates as pets
Wedge-capped capuchin in private home
Wedge-capped capuchin, private home

Action for Primates, a not-for-profit group that campaigns on behalf of non-human primates worldwide, has applauded Haywood County, North Carolina, for maintaining its strong stance prohibiting the keeping of all species of non-human primates in private homes ('pets').

A petition to the Board of Commissioners, discussed at a public hearing on 15 June, had proposed an amendment to Haywood county's dangerous animal ordinance (Chapter 91: Animal Services Ordinance) that, if accepted, would have granted an exemption to capuchin monkeys, thereby allowing people to keep them in private homes. After some discussion at its meeting on 20 July, the Board of Commissioners did not approve the exemption, thus the ordinance remains unchanged.

Every state in the USA has laws which deal with so-called exotic and wild animals in general, either allowing, restricting or prohibiting their being kept in private homes ('ownership'). In some states, such as North Carolina, the law allows individual counties and cities to create ordinances regarding these animals.

In Haywood County, the ordinance bans the keeping of certain wild animals, deemed to be inherently dangerous to persons or property, in private homes. Currently, this includes all non-human primates. The petitioner for the proposed amendment argued that capuchin monkeys are not inherently dangerous, are easily 'domesticated' and do not have an aggressive nature.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California and adviser to Action for Primates, wrote to the Board of Commissioners urging it not to support the proposed amendment, citing his own many years of experience with non-human primates.

Dr Buyukmihci stated: It is good news that Haywood County will be maintaining its prohibition of keeping any non-human primate in private homes. Non-human primates are wild animals and do not belong in captivity in people's homes or back yards. Contrary to the assertions of the petitioner, capuchins cannot become 'domesticated' by keeping them in human homes and they, like all non-human primates in captivity, can become extremely aggressive, causing serious injury to people. Non-human primates belong in their natural habitat, living freely. From an animal welfare and public safety perspective, the Commissioners have made the right decision.

Action for Primates believes that the keeping of any non-human primate as a 'pet' seriously compromises the health and welfare of the animal. It also creates a substantial danger and health risk to people. These are wild animals (even if born in captivity) and cannot be domesticated. As non-human primates mature and become physically stronger, they – even small monkeys like capuchins – become unpredictable and aggressive towards people and can cause serious injuries. To deal with this aggression, people often resort to cruel means such as removing teeth and nails in the erroneous belief that this will prevent injuries. These mutilated individuals, however, can and do still inflict injuries on people.

Reputable humane societies, veterinary medical associations, including the largest veterinary organisation worldwide – the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) (1) – and the British Veterinary Association (2), along with organisations such as the American Society of Primatologists (3), Association of Zoos & Aquariums (4) and the International Primatological Society (5) are opposed to the keeping of non-human primates in private homes, largely because it is considered inhumane and a public health problem. Moreover, the AVMA believes even using these individuals as "service" or "assistance" animals is inappropriate for similar reasons (6).

References:

  1. Golab, Gail. 2008-03-11. "Testimony of Dr. Gail Golab, Director of the Animal Welfare Division of the American Veterinary Medical Association, on the Captive Primate Safety Act" 7 pp. American Veterinary Medical Association. accessed 2020-03-14
  2. Because nonhuman primates pose significant risks to the health of the public and domestic animals – including the possibility of severe injury to the humans and domestic animals with which they come in contact – the AVMA opposes private ownership of these animals. Furthermore, the AVMA also does not support the use of nonhuman primates as assistance or service animals because of animal welfare concerns, the potential for serious injury, and zoonotic risks.
  3. BVA. 2014-01-14. "BVA submission to efra [sic] inquiry into the keeping of primates as pets" British Veterinary Association. accessed 2020-03-28
  4. We support a ban on the keeping of primates as pets and the only exception to that position would be to allow individuals who are working in partnership with accredited zoos, to breed primates for conservation purposes.
  5. ASP. 2011-03-23. "Private ownership of primates" American Society of Primatologists. accessed 2019-09-02
  6. ...ASP discourages all individuals from privately owning primates for non-scientific or non-educational purposes and from breeding and selling or otherwise supplying nonhuman primates for non-scientific or non-educational purposes.
  7. AZA. 2016-11-05. "Why wild animals don't make good pets" 2 pp. Association of Zoos & Aquariums. accessed 2020-03-14
  8. IPS. 2019-01-01. "Private ownership of nonhuman primates" International Primatological Society. accessed 2019-09-02
  9. The International Primatological Society therefore opposes the holding of nonhuman primates in captivity by individuals for any non-scientific, non-certified educational or non-registered/accredited sanctuary purposes, including the possession of nonhuman primates as pets or companion animals as well as engaging in breeding and trading for these purposes.
  10. AVMA. 2019-01-01. "Nonhuman primates as assistance animals" American Veterinary Medical Association. accessed 2019-10-26
  11. The AVMA does not support the use of nonhuman primates as assistance animals because of animal welfare concerns, the potential for serious injury, and zoonotic risks.
19 July 2020: Macaques used in outrageous and frivolous "monkey piano" experiment

Action for Primates, a UK-based not-for-profit group that campaigns on behalf of non-human primates worldwide, has condemned as outrageous, research that harmed and mutilated rhesus macaques.

The work, which was published in June of this year (1), was carried out at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, but also involved researchers from the Aalto University School of Science, in Finland. It was funded in part by the US taxpayer (National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation). Some of the researchers were additionally funded by the Academy of Finland (a government funding body). The researchers wanted to know why non-human primates do not have a more speech-like (or song-like) communication system, including vocal learning and volitional control, despite their anatomical similarities to people.

Three rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), named Do, Ra, and Ch by the researchers, were used in this experiment. They were initially 'trained', using food and fruit juice as 'rewards', to do certain tasks on what the researchers called a "monkey piano" – a keyboard device designed specifically for this research. In this video clip included in the publication, one monkey can be seen rotely pressing levers that produce sounds and then reaching for a bit of food presented on each correct sequence. The researchers did not state whether the macaques were initially subjected to fluid or food reduction or deprivation in order to 'motivate' them to carry out behavioural tasks, although this is commonly used in laboratories in order to get the animals to 'cooperate'. The research took place in the laboratory cages and sound booths.

Once they were 'trained', posts were surgically implanted into the monkeys' skulls and secured with ceramic bone screws, plastic strips and bone cement. These 'head posts' were used, in conjunction with a restraint device euphemistically called a 'primate chair' by researchers, to prevent the monkeys from moving their heads during the testing. From the visual media documented in the publication, it is clear that the monkeys also had to endure the continuous presence of a metal neck-collar.

After recovery from the surgery, the monkeys were restrained in a horizontal position in the 'primate chair', with their heads immobilised using the implanted posts. Shoulder electrodes were also applied to record muscle activity. Whole-brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to study the monkeys while they were presented with the sounds they had 'learned' (or ones they had not) through in-ear headphones to see if the researchers could identify how the information was being processed in the brain. The macaques had to endure hundreds of trials during multiple scanning sessions.

The researchers claim their study shows that macaques can learn to produce novel sound sequences with their hands by pressing levers ("piano keys") on a keyboard.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California and spokesperson for Action for Primates, stated: The public are repeatedly told that non-human primates are only used in research when absolutely necessary and only when there are no other alternatives available. We do not know if the researchers in this study would offer that defence, but it is patently clear that the work has no importance to non-human primates and certainly has no applicability to people.

Furthermore, the same sorts of studies could easily be done in people – and have been done – to see what part of the brain is involved in various activities, including playing the piano (2), using the same kinds of sophisticated methods used by these researchers. Such studies provide the kind of information that would actually help people. It is shocking that, instead, intelligent and sentient beings were deliberately and cruelly exploited in this experiment. They were not only deprived of a normal life, they also had to endure surgical mutilation, extreme restraint, and the monotony of hours of 'trials'.


References:

  1. Archakov, Denis; DeWitt, Iain; Kuśmierek, Paweł; Ortiz-Rios, Michael; Cameron, Daniel; Cui, Ding; Morin, Elyse L.; VanMeter, John W.; Sams, Mikko; Jääskeläinen, Iiro P. and Rauschecker, Josef P. 2020-06-30. "Auditory representation of learned sound sequences in motor regions of the macaque brain" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117(26):15242-15252.
  2. This is an open access article distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND)
  3. Sergent, Justine; Zuck, Eric; Terriah, Sean and MacDonald, Brennan. 1992-07-03. "Distributed neural network underlying musical sight-reading and keyboard performance" Science 257(5066):106-109.

Contact details for Action for Primates:
E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org
Website: http://actionforprimates.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates/
Twitter: @Action4Primates

18 May 2020: Call to YouTube to stop hosting channels that promote cruelty and violence against monkeys for entertainment

YouTube urged to take action to implement and enforce its animal cruelty policy

Action for Primates, a UK based not-for-profit group that campaigns on behalf of non-human primates worldwide, is calling on YouTube to stop allowing content that promotes animal abuse and cruelty for 'entertainment' purposes on its platform; in particular, videos depicting the tormenting and cruel treatment of monkeys.

One channel which has come under specific scrutiny is "Captive Baby Monkeys', which encourages cruelty and violence against baby monkeys (1). Other users post comments encouraging more cruelty.

Another YouTube channel, called 'Monkey Raging', has posted a series of sickening videos in which he is abusing and mistreating captive monkeys, while asking people to send donations (2). Unfortunately, people are posting supporting comments with suggestions of further cruel things that can be done. In one video, firecrackers are set off in a container attached to the outside of a monkey's cage. The monkey is visibly terrified and tries to escape but is trapped. Comments from viewers include: 'Tie his hands and legs together in the cage and then do it again', 'I love you. Next time put the fireworks inside the cage!' and 'OMG I can't stop laughing. Well done! Sending USD $5!'

A third YouTube channel, 'Kill baby monkeys', does not have video uploads, but creates playlists of videos depicting injured, abused or dying monkeys (3).

The YouTube video channel, SR Monkey Daily, posts videos of frightened baby monkeys being teased and tormented - one infant was terrorised with a live young crocodile and - all for 'amusement' (4).

Despite having what appears to be a policy with regards to what content is not acceptable, and the grounds on which a complaint can be made (5), submitting a complaint is not straightforward and YouTube has continued to allow shocking footage to remain. By permitting such content on their platform, YouTube is complicit in promoting animal cruelty and abuse. And, by not monitoring and enforcing its own policy, viewers could be encouraged to inflict deliberate acts of cruelty on other animals.

Asia for Animals Coalition, a global network of hundreds of animal welfare and conservation organisations (including Action for Primates), has submitted an open letter to Chief Executive Officer, Ms Susan Wojcicki. It is calling on YouTube to implement a robust mechanism for reporting and removing animal abuse content that has been uploaded to its site, specifically content that glorifies animal abuse and cruelty for sport and entertainment purposes (6).

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine and representative of Action for Primates, stated: As a veterinarian, I am shocked by the acts of cruelty inflicted on monkeys on these YouTube channels. It is sickening to watch. No responsible video-sharing platform should tolerate animal cruelty in the guise of entertainment. YouTube must immediately take action to implement and enforce its animal cruelty policy.

A petition to YouTube calling on it to stop allowing content that promotes animal abuse and cruelty for 'entertainment' purposes on its platform has been launched: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/584/151/521/call-on-youtube-to-stop-hosting-channels-that-promote-cruelty-and-violence-against-monkeys/

Contact details: Action for Primates
E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org
Website (under development): http://actionforprimates.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates/
Twitter: @Action4Primates
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/actionforprimates/

References:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWNMs6WAB0DaGbfWUrGVRZw
  2. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClh6T3bzHDoX7XJ9am8UWZA
  3. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLgFqU3NXRkzqEMtBZYWgUUOT7fuHPz0p
  4. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC08grStyt11GgPRsqjztqrw
  5. 'Content where there is infliction of unnecessary suffering or harm deliberately causing an animal distress.' (https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802008?hl=en-GB)
  6. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r7knqLq99_zIJ49kbgD8X4Ar8Xxtod7Z/view
7 May 2020: Animal protection groups call on companies to not fly monkeys from Mauritius to the USA

A coalition of animal protection groups, including from the USA, France and the UK, is asking CS Aviation, a French aviation company, and SkyBus Air Cargo, a Peruvian cargo company, to refuse involvement in the shipment of 300 monkeys from Mauritius to Florida. The long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are due to be exported from Mauritius on behalf of Primate Products, a US primate importer based in Florida, for use in experiments by a US laboratory.

Action for Primates, One Voice and Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, is urging the two companies to join the many airlines that have already refused such shipments - including many of the world's flag carriers, such as American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, South African Airways, Delta Airlines, Eva Air, Air Canada and China Airlines - thereby dissociating themselves from the cruel and controversial trade in primates for research.

The transportation of primates by airlines and their use in experiments is an issue that engenders strong public concern, and thousands of people around the world have already responded in support of our action alert to stop this shipment.

Long-tailed macaque living freely in Mauritius
Long-tailed macaque
living freely in Mauritius

The international trade in primates for research inflicts great cruelty and suffering on these highly intelligent and sensitive animals; including their capture from the wild, their forced captivity in unnatural conditions on farms, the forced early separation of a female from her infant, their transportation in the cargo holds of aeroplanes and their eventual fate in the research laboratory. During transportation, primates shipped as cargo will suffer stress and anxiety while forced to endure extremely long journeys to destinations around the world.

Studies carried out by scientists demonstrate that transportation causes profound negative, and lasting effects upon the welfare of primates (1, 2).

Mauritius is a major exporter of long-tailed macaques for the global research industry, with tens of thousands of monkeys held in breeding farms across the country. In 2017, Mauritius accounted for one fifth (21%) of the world's export of live primates (3). Mauritius exports primarily to laboratories and animal supply companies in the USA and Europe, and, in 2019, exported over 7,500 monkeys to the USA, Canada, France, the UK, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands (4). The USA accounted for 4,011 of the imported monkeys.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine and representative of Action for Primates, stated: Trapping, breeding and shipping non-human primates for the research industry is not only immoral, it is also scientifically unnecessary. We are an intelligent and capable species. If we use our intelligence compassionately, we can find ways to answer the questions we want without having to harm and kill non-human primates.

Muriel Arnal, Founder & President of One Voice stated: Throughout their lives, these macaques will know only the stress and suffering of captivity, the metal bars of their cages, separation from their family, transportation in cargo holds over long distances and at their final destination - the laboratory - they will be subjected to cruel experiments from which they will unlikely survive.

Notes to Editor:

For further information, please contact Action for Primates: info@actionforprimates.org

Action for Primates (UK): http://actionforprimates.org/
One Voice (France): https://one-voice.fr/
Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (USA): http://arff.org/

References:

  1. Honess, P.E.; Johnson, P.J. and Wolfensohn, S.E. 2004-04-01. "A study of behavioural responses of non-human primates to air transport and re-housing" Laboratory Animals 38(2):119-132.
  2. Fernstrőm, A.L.; Sutian, W.; Royo, F.; Westlund, K.; Nilsson, T.; Carlsson, H.-E.; Paramastri, Y.; Pamungkas, J.; Sajuthi, D.; Schapiro, S.J. and Hau, J. 2008-01-01. "Stress in cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) subjected to long-distance transport and simulated transport housing conditions" Stress 11(6):467-476.
  3. The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC)
  4. Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Mauritius
4 May 2020: Plea to DENR to refuse permit to trap wild monkeys for research

Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Action for Primates are calling on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Philippines to deny permission for wild monkeys to be trapped on the island of Romblon. The call comes following reports that the DENR is considering an application that, if granted, would allow monkeys to be captured for breeding farms that supply and export monkeys for experiments and testing (1).

The primate species in question is the long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis spp. philippensis). However, according to the most recent assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, this sub species of the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) is listed as 'Near Threatened' with a population that is decreasing. Threats identified for the decline in this species were given as hunting and habitat loss (2). Also, because this species is listed under Appendix II on CITES, the Philippines, as a signatory to CITES, has a responsibility to safeguard the conservation status of Macaca fascicularis spp. philippensis.

The trapping of wild primates inflicts immense suffering. Primates are intelligent and social animals and capturing and removing them from their native habitat and family and social groups is cruel and can result in injuries and even death. It also causes substantial suffering in the families left behind. Several official bodies and organizations recognize the suffering involved in the capturing of wild non-human primates. For example, the International Primatological Society:

...the capture of nonhuman primates from the wild is stressful for the animals and increases the suffering, risk of injuries, spread of disease and even death during capture, storage and transport; (3)

One of the reasons given by the DENR for considering an application for the capture of the wild monkeys is conflict arising between people and the monkeys. Conflict issues, however, are usually due to human activities, such as the destruction and fragmentation of the natural habitat, forcing primates to compete with people over land and resources. One scientific report has stated that "Unsustainable human activities are now the major force driving primate species to extinction" (4). The authors estimate that about 60% of non-human primate species are threatened with extinction and populations of 75% of non-human primate species are decreasing globally because of unsustainable human activities.

There are effective and humane methods that can be used to resolve conflicts between monkeys and people. These include reproduction control, relocation and, most importantly, educating communities to modify their behaviour in ways that do not encourage monkeys to rely on humans for food - such as not feeding the monkeys and only using monkey-proof refuse containers.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine and representative of Action for Primates stated: There are humane approaches to population control that can be adopted to resolve conflict, without resorting to the capture and removal of wild macaques for research. At a time when there is increasing awareness of the devastating consequences that human activity is having on the natural world, including non-human primates, it is imperative that we learn to co-exist with other species rather than just eliminate them when conflicts arise.

Anna Cabrera, Executive Director, PAWS stated: The proposed capture of Romblon macaques is inimical to animal welfare and is a direct violation of our country's Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (RA 9147) - which strictly prohibits the collection and capture of wildlife in the absence of scientific research on wildlife populations.

Contrary to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)'s statement that macaques have been "introduced" to the area, locals have confirmed that these primates have been in Banton, Romblon long before human activities, like farming, started there.

The question on who encroached on whose land now arises. Activities seen as acts of 'nuisance' by these animals are a direct result of our collective failure to protect these primates' habitats.

It is not too late.

We can set things right by taking immediate steps to establish a protected area for macaques and to develop eco-friendly systems within human communities to allow them to live in harmony with wildlife.


Notes to Editor

The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) is the Philippines' leading animal welfare group which lobbied for the country's first national anti-cruelty law, The Animal Welfare Act of the Philippines (RA 8485 and its amendment, RA 10631). PAWS is a volunteer-based non-profit organization fighting animal cruelty through education, lobbying and the prosecution of animal offenders. Website: https://paws.org.ph/ Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: @pawsphilippines

Action for Primates is a not-for-profit organization that campaigns globally on behalf of non-human primates. Web site: http://actionforprimates.org/; E-mail: info@actionforprimates.org; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates/
Twitter: @Action4Primates

References:

  1. Mayuga, Jonathan L. 2020-04-02. "DENR official sees revival of native monkey farming amid global virus contagion." BusinessMirror. Accessed 2020-04-06.
  2. Ong, P. & Richardson, M. 2008. Macaca fascicularis ssp. philippensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T40788A10354490. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T40788A10354490.en. 'The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world's most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species.'
  3. ISP. 2020. Trade in Primates Captured in the Wild International Primatological Society. Accessed 2020-05-02.
  4. Estrada, A. et al. 2017-01-18. "Impending extinction crisis of the world's primates: Why primates matter." Science Advances 3(1): e1600946
27 April 2020: Animal protection group urges Irfan Hakim to stop promoting baby monkeys as pets

Action for Primates, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns globally on behalf of non-human primates, has written to celebrity actor, Irfan Hakim, urging him to show compassion for Candy Laura, his pet baby monkey, by releasing her to a genuine sanctuary, where she can at least spend the rest of her life with other monkeys in a natural environment. We have also asked him to use his celebrity profile to call for the protection of monkeys in Indonesia and to urge people not to keep them as pets.

The trade in and the keeping of non-human primates as pets inflicts immense suffering and distress. These animals are wild, even if born in captivity, and they do not belong in human homes, kept in unnatural conditions, deprived of their freedom, their mothers and the companionship of other monkeys. Instead, monkeys should be living freely in their forest home with their family and social groups.

Action for Primates is concerned that Irfan Hakim, by keeping a baby monkey as a pet and promoting her on Instagram and in TV and YouTube appearances, is likely to encourage other people to consider obtaining a monkey for themselves, thereby causing other monkeys to suffer greatly.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine and representative of Action for Primates, stated: Non-human primates kept as pets cannot thrive physically and emotionally. The forcible removal of infants from their mother, and being "raised" in a human household, results in abnormal development and the conditions in captivity lead to severe psychological and physical problems.

When kept in captivity as pets, non-human primates can become a danger to people. Although considered cute while babies, as they mature and become physically stronger, they become unpredictable and aggressive towards people and can cause serious injuries.

Reputable humane societies, veterinary medical associations, including the largest veterinary organisation worldwide – the American Veterinary Medical Association – along with organisations such as the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the International Primatological Society are opposed to the keeping of non-human primates in private homes.

Action for Primates has also written to Dr. Ir. Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Minister of Environment and Forestry, asking for the Government of Indonesia to protect the indigenous non-human primates in Indonesia, and to end their capture and trade as pets.

NOTES TO EDITOR:
Action for Primates
http://actionforprimates.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActionforPrimates/
Twitter: @Action4Primates


References: