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Action for Primates

Long-tailed macaques, photo by Sarah Kite

Take Action on Behalf of Non-human Primates


14 April 2021: Monkeys suffer mutilations in deplorable spatial orientation research

Rhesus macaque with head post in a laboratory; photo credit Cruelty Free International / SOKO Tierschutz
Rhesus macaque with head post in a laboratory
photo credit CFI / SOKO Tierschutz

Monkeys have been subjected to an appalling ordeal lasting many months during research to deliberately damage the part of their ear involved in balance (1).

The vestibular system (inner ear balance mechanism) is a sensory system that contributes to the sense of balance and spatial orientation for the purpose of coordinating movement. It works with the visual system (eyes, relevant muscles and parts of the brain) to stop objects blurring when the head moves. People with vestibular damage experience impaired vision, spatial perception and balance.

The work was done at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts (a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School), and was approved by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Animal Care and Use Committee. It was publicly funded with NIH (NIDCD) grants and privately with a grant from MED EL Corp, a company that produces cochlear implants for hearing issues.

Two female rhesus macaques were used, called M1 and M2 by the authors. They were ...trained to perform a psychophysical task that assayed their perception of head orientation relative to gravity... [authors' emphasis] The 'training', which took six months, was not described, so it is not known whether the monkeys were deprived of food or liquids to 'motivate' them, as usually happens with this type of 'training'.

The monkeys were then subjected to four surgical procedures under anaesthesia:

  1. a head bolt was screwed into their skull with a headcap that contained electronics
  2. eye search coils were implanted into an eye (under the conjunctiva); this would also have involved running a wire or wires subcutaneously to the headcap; this is a highly invasive procedure for the eye and is acknowledged to be contrary to the welfare of the animals as well as completely unnecessary (2)
  3. vestibular implant (VI) electrodes were inserted into the three canals of one of their ears, by drilling holes into the canals (referred to as the 'implanted ear'); the electrical wires were tunneled subcutaneously to the headcap
  4. the other ear had the part that deals with orientation, the inner ear, destroyed (labyrinthectomy) (referred to as the non-implanted side)

Running wires subcutaneously under the skin to the headcap would have involved tearing a path through the tissues beneath the skin, adding to postoperative pain for the monkeys.

The researchers then attempted to carry out a vestibular ablation, destroying the ability of the monkeys to orient themselves. Monkey M1 was injected 10 times in each ear with a drug that is toxic. Despite this, the desired loss of function did not occur, leading the researchers to conclude that Rhesus monkeys appeared to be fairly resistant to this mode of ablation, however, as ten bilateral...injections in M1 only modestly reduced... function. The researchers then tried giving a different drug that is known to be toxic to the ear. They gave two courses of this drug intramuscularly, but this also did not result in the desired loss of function. It was not stated how frequently all these injections were made, whether M1 was awake or anaesthetised each time and what effects they had on her. Eventually, the researchers gave the original toxic drug directly into a specific part of one ear while implanting electrodes. This was also done in one ear of M2. In both macaques, the other ear was subjected to a separate surgery: ...the contralateral ear was destroyed with a labyrinthectomy. This resulted in ...complete loss of vestibular function on the non-implanted side and severe damage in the implanted ear...

After subjecting these monkeys to such brutal mutilation, the testing began. The researchers admitted, however, that Due to delays associated with vestibular ablation and surgical recoveries, testing in the different states was separated by substantial periods of time. As a result, the testing took place over many months. The monkeys had to carry out the task in the dark, immobilised in a restraint apparatus with their heads further immobilised by the head bolt. They had to rotate a light bar about the roll...axis using a small steering wheel with the goal of aligning the light bar parallel to gravity. Their eye movements were measured. Tilting the chair to see the monkeys' responses was part of the testing process.

There was no information provided on the outcome for the monkeys, their physical condition, their behaviour, how they managed in their cages following such severe disruption to their coordination and orientation. We wrote to the corresponding author of the paper and to the Editor-in-Chief of the journal and asked specifically about the fate of the monkeys. Neither provided us with this information, suggesting that they did not think it was important to include in the publication. We know that damage to a human's vestibular system can cause a person to experience symptoms such as sudden, severe vertigo (spinning/swaying sensation); dizziness; balance problems; lack of coordination; blurred or 'bouncing' vision; hearing abnormalities; anxiety; nausea and vomiting. There is nothing to suggest that monkeys do not experience the same effects. These would unquestionably be extremely frightening to a monkey who cannot understand what is happening to them and who is highly mobile and depends on their agility to survive in their environment.

This research was basic science to learn more 'details' about how balance is controlled in rhesus macaques, but may have no applicability to people. The authors stated that Considerable work remains before the VI [vestibular implant] can be optimized as a clinical therapy. They also stated that Human implantation has been initiated by three groups... [authors' emphasis] and that the results are promising. This calls into question, therefore, why macaques were subjected to such an arduous ordeal and mutilation. Despite this, the researchers called for more macaque research.

Please speak out as an advocate for these monkeys. The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Animal Care and Use Committee do not provide any contact information, but Mass Eye and Ear is an integral part of Harvard Medical School. Please send a polite message urging Harvard to not approve any further research that involves this brutal use of non-human primates:

References:

  1. Karmali, Faisal; Haburcakova, Csilla; Gong, Wangsong; Santina, Charles C. Della; Merfeld, Daniel M. and Lewis, Richard F. 2021-03-17. "An implanted vestibular prosthesis improves spatial orientation in animals with severe vestibular damage" The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience ePub.
  2. Machado, Christopher J. and Nelson, Eric E. 2011-06-01. "Eye-tracking with nonhuman primates is now more accessible than ever before" American Journal of Primatology 73(6):562-569.
  3. It is important for all nonhuman primate researchers interested in visual information processing or operant behavior to realize that such invasive procedures [like search coil implantation] are no longer necessary.

29 March 2021: Marmosets paralysed and kept alive for up to three days for visual recordings in Australia

Common marmoset in a laboratory; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Common marmoset in a laboratory
photo credit Cruelty Free International

Tragically for the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), researchers are looking to this species as a new non-human primate 'model' to be used in neurophysiology, for visual processing and behaviour.

This research was carried out at Monash University, Australia, approved by the Monash Animal Research Platform Animal Ethics Committee and publicly funded by the Australian Research Council and by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (1).

Five adult common marmosets were used (one female, four males). They were anaesthetised and subjected to invasive surgery: a tracheotomy (an incision into the windpipe), vein cannulation and craniotomy (opening up the skull) to implant electrodes into their brains. Once the surgical procedures were done, while still anaesthetised, the animals were given pancuronium bromide, which is a neuromuscular blocking agent that paralyses the animals, prevents breathing (they must be artificially ventilated) and potentially can allow them to feel pain without being able to show this by moving. The monkeys were artificially ventilated with a mixture of nitrous oxide (commonly known as laughing gas) and oxygen; there was no mention of any further anaesthetic. Recordings were made while visual stimuli were presented to the paralysed animals. The recordings went on for 2-3 days, after which the animals were killed by being given a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital.

In addition to the inhumanity of keeping marmosets in captivity and subjecting them to research, we are concerned that, following painful surgery, the marmosets were paralysed and kept alive for up to three days. Nitrous oxide was the only anaesthetic used during this period, but it is a very weak general anaesthetic that might not have been sufficient to render the marmosets insensitive not only to the damage done by the surgeries, but also to the serious problems cause by being paralysed. It is well known that people who receive neuromuscular blocking agents for medical reasons experience a visceral reaction of extreme fear and distress even though they are being artificially respirated. They, of course, would understand that they were in no harm, something not possible in the marmosets under similar circumstances. Although it was alleged that the marmosets were continuously monitored, because they were kept paralysed, there is no unequivocal way of knowing they did not experience fear or pain.

This experiment was basic research with no particular human benefit. The authors clearly want to continue using the marmoset as a 'model' for human brain function, as evidenced by their statement: The marmoset offers exciting new opportunities to study links between brain physiology and behavior, but the functions of frontal cortex areas are still being identified in this species. Here, we provide the first evidence of visual receptive fields in the marmoset dorsolateral frontal cortex, an important step towards future studies of visual cognitive behavior. This does not bode well for marmosets at Monash University.

Action for Primates is working with Humane Research Australia to highlight the plight of marmosets used in cognition research carried out at Monash University. Please join us in speaking out for these monkeys.

Send polite E-mail to Professor Rebekah Brown, Vice-Provost (Research), Monash University, asking that they no longer allow experiments involving marmosets in cognition research:

For further information: https://www.humaneresearch.org.au/marmosets-paralysed-for-cognition-research-at-monash-university/

Reference:

  1. Feizpour, Azadeh; Majka, Piotr; Chaplin, Tristan A.; Rowley, Declan; Yu, Hsin-Hao; Zavitz, Elizabeth; Price, Nicholas S.C.; Rosa, Marcello G.P. and Hagan, Maureen A. 2021-01-01. "Visual responses in the dorsolateral frontal cortex of marmoset monkeys" Journal of Neurophysiology 125(1):296-304.

24 March 2021: Young squirrel monkeys injected daily with marijuana (cannabis) to study teenage drug use

Black-capped squirrel monkey in Peru; photo credit Vladislav T. Jirousek, Shutterstock
Black-capped squirrel monkey in Peru
photo credit Vladislav T. Jirousek, Shutterstock

The daily use of marijuana is apparently rising in human adolescents, along with the use of high potency marijuana products such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This research subjected black-capped squirrel monkeys to daily injections of cannabis for four months in an attempt to 'understand' the long-term effects of the daily consumption of a high dose of THC in adolescents and whether a therapeutic dose of cannabidiol (CBD) has a modifying effect on the THC (1).

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive substance that produces the 'high' associated with smoking marijuana and can also lead to central nervous system depression. Cannabidiol is a major component of the active ingredients of marijuana and is used in medical marijuana.

Twelve adolescent male black-capped squirrel monkeys were used in this research carried out at McLean Hospital (part of Harvard University), with collaboration by the University of Toronto. The research was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at McLean Hospital and supported by public funds (NIH grant) and Harvard University.

The monkeys were divided into three groups, one of which was a 'control' group not given the drugs. The remaining monkeys were injected intramuscular daily for four months, receiving an increasing amount of either THC or a combination of THC and CBD, eventually reaching the equivalent of one marijuana joint equivalent per day.

During the first three weeks, the monkeys underwent training on a touchscreen. There were 90-training trials during at least five daily sessions. During these sessions, the monkeys were held in a small Plexiglass chamber which was in a sound- and light-attenuating enclosure.

Photograph of the experimental apparatus, as cited by the authors; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3429786/
Apparatus as referenced by the authors
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3429786/

In week four, when the highest dose of drugs was injected, the monkeys were tested using the touchscreen to see the effects of the drugs on their ability to do the task. Some of the monkeys carried out hundreds of trials. The fate of the monkeys was not stated.

The authors concluded: Whether our observations are relevant to a broader range of cognitive tasks vital for daily function in humans, especially those known to be compromised by marijuana use in human adolescents (i.e., learning and memory, processing speed, complex attention, executive function, impulse control and decision-making) is uncertain. Long term marijuana use initiated during adolescence is associated with a broad spectrum of adverse effects (e.g. cognitive impairment, anxiety, psychosis, amotivation, addiction, accidents) some of which are not identifiable in laboratory housed non-human primates.

As common sense would have foretold, the authors acknowledge that the work subjecting these non-consenting beings to forced captivity, drugs and testing, may have no relevance to people. The authors also concluded that using CBD in addition to THC in the monkeys did not change the outcome.

Drug use is a major public health issue, and there is already a wealth of data on its impact. Testing could easily be carried out using morally-defensible studies in human volunteers and relevant data obtained. Despite this and while the scientific community claims repeatedly that they only use animals when absolutely necessary, researchers such as these continue to deliberately inflict misery and suffering by forcing drugs into non-human primates. None of these studies, however, can – nor could they ever – get to the root issues surrounding drug abuse in people, which comprise a complex combination of factors such as genetics, emotional and personal experiences, and socioeconomic issues. While millions of dollars – usually paid for by the US tax payer – are spent every year to make non-human primates 'drug addicts', people who might actually benefit from these funds and resources continue to suffer.

Please speak out for these monkeys. Send a polite message to McLean Hospital urging it to stop wasting monkeys' lives and resources by ending the cruel use of non-human primates in drug addiction research:

Reference:

  1. Withey, Sarah L.; Kangas, Brian D.; Charles, Sophia; Gumbert, Andrew B.; Eisold, Jessica E.; George, Susan R.; Bergman, Jack and Madras, Bertha K. 2021-04-01. "Effects of daily Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) alone or combined with cannabidiol (CBD) on cognition-based behavior and activity in adolescent nonhuman primates." Drug and Alcohol Dependence 221:108629.

20 March 2021: Export of monkeys from the Philippines for research increases seven-fold

Long-tailed macaques on breeding farm; photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals
Long-tailed macaques on breeding farm
photo credit Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

The Philippines exported 1,053 long-tailed macaques to the USA in 2019 for research. This figure, recently made available by CITES, is more than a seven-fold increase over the number of macaques exported in 2018. The export trade in long-tailed macaques from the Philippines has been few in recent years, but the coronavirus pandemic together with trade restrictions on the export of macaques from China, the largest supplier of monkeys to the USA, has tragically resulted in an increased demand for these monkeys.

Allowing the capture of wild monkeys to be used for breeding (with their offspring exported overseas for research) is being viewed as a solution to conflicts arising between monkeys and people. Such conflicts arise primarily due to ever-increasing human expansion into and destruction of wildlife habitat. Trying to resolve these conflicts by killing or allowing the capture of wild monkeys for research is ineffective and cruel. There are humane and effective methods that can prevent problems arising and resolve conflict when it occurs.

The long-tailed macaque is now listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and there are increasing concerns about the conservation status of the species, including in the Philippines. With a lack of accurate information on the macaque population in the country, we appeal to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) not to allow the capture of macaques from the wild to supply breeding farms. Action for Primates also calls for an end to the export of these intelligent and sentient animals and the extreme suffering and death to which they will unquestionably be subjected.

There is widespread concern for the plight of the long-tailed macaque in the Philippines. Our petition (see below) has now been signed by almost 129,000 people.

Please write to the following officials below, urging the government to protect wild populations of the long-tailed macaque, to refuse any permits that would allow the capture of these monkeys and to ban the export of macaques for research.

18 March 2021: Appalling waste of life – 34 monkeys killed in ageing research

Rhesus macaques in a laboratory; photo credit Cruelty Free International/SOKO Tierschutz
Rhesus macaques in a laboratory
photo credit Cruelty Free International/SOKO Tierschutz

Thirty-four rhesus macaques were used and killed in this recently published research carried out at Boston University School of Medicine in the US (1). Not only was it approved by their ...Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee (IACUC)..., it was funded entirely by public funds through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The aim of the research was to look at impairments in learning, memory, executive function, and processing speed using the research group's rhesus macaque as a model of ageing for humans.

The macaques were between five and 30 years old and were used simply to see what changes occurred in their learning ability and their brains with age. They were subjected to a series of behavioural tests to assess learning, memory and executive functions. The testing was carried out five days a week, but for how many hours a day or how many days or weeks was unclear. When the period of testing was completed, the macaques were killed to get their brains, or in the sanitised language of the authors, the ...brains were harvested.... The animals were anaesthetised before being bled to death.

According to the researchers, the macaques exhibit age-related cognitive impairment and can serve as a model for studying ageing in people. These macaques, however, are essentially wild animals imprisoned in captivity. They will experience severe stresses caused by artificial experimental conditions, something that surely would have an unknown and unmeasurable impact on the their cognitive processes. From a scientific perspective, the findings in the captive macaques would have little, if any, applicability to ageing in people whose lives are fundamentally different and considerably more complex with respect to stressors. The most appropriate species to use to study people is people! More importantly, there are already data on the effects of ageing in people, as acknowledged by the authors, and more can be easily derived from humane and morally defensible studies in people.

This research comprises and exemplifies an appalling waste of life, the work obviously designed just to produce a 'library' of findings to use in future work involving rhesus macaques as a model. It demonstrates, yet again, that the much-touted refrain of the research community of using 'animals' only when absolutely necessary is just meaningless and disingenuous.

Boston University School of Medicine claims that The humane care and involvement of animals in research is a serious responsibility shared by the entire research community. In what way was this senseless 'research' humane?

Please speak out in the memory of these monkeys, by sending polite E-mail to the Boston University School of Medicine, asking them to stop using non-human primates in research:

Reference:

  1. Batterman, Katelyn V.; Cabrera, Payton E.; Moore, Tara L. and Rosene, Douglas L. 2021-02-16. "T Cells Actively Infiltrate the White Matter of the Aging Monkey Brain in Relation to Increased Microglial Reactivity and Cognitive Decline." Frontiers in Immunology 12:607691.
  2. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).

9 March 2021: Secretive trade in monkeys to laboratories in Europe

Young long-tailed macaques in a Mauritius monkey farm; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques, Mauritius monkey farm
photo credit Cruelty Free International

Action for Primates and One Voice have shone a spotlight on the secretive world of the trade and transport of monkeys to Europe for use in research. France is one of the countries at the heart of this cruel trade. Silabe (Simian Laboratory Europe), a company based in Niederhausbergen, is a staging post known for importing hundreds of monkeys who are then moved on to laboratories across Europe.

According to information available to One Voice and Action for Primates, long-tailed macaques were transported by Air France from Mauritius and Vietnam to Silabe. From Silabe, the monkeys were shipped on to laboratories in France, including INSERM, Université de Strasbourg, CEA as well as other countries in Europe, such as Italy, Germany, and the UK. Many monkeys have ended up in contract testing facilities such as Aptuit and Accelera in Italy, Covance in Germany and Covance in the UK. Macaques from Mauritius may be very young when imported by Silabe, sometimes only 15 or 16 months old, and some may be first generation – the offspring of wild-caught parents.

Long-tailed macaques at a Vietnam breeding farm; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques, Vietnam breeding farm
photo credit Cruelty Free International

Infant primates, unlike the offspring of many other mammals, have a long period of dependence and development which requires an extended period of maternal care. Under natural conditions, long-tailed macaques continue to have close contact with their mothers for several years. Females remain in their family groups for life and males remain until they are at least four years old. For infant monkeys to be taken from their mothers and family groups at such a young age and sent overseas in a crate in the cargo hold of an aeroplane must be a terrifying ordeal.

The global trade in non-human primates for research is a cruel and brutal business that is responsible for shipping tens of thousands of animals around the world. The main exporters of non-human primates to Europe are Mauritius and Vietnam. Every year, thousands of long-tailed macaques are imported to be used in experiments and testing in European laboratories.

Long-tailed macaque at German testing laboratory; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaque, German testing laboratory
photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

Monkeys are transported as cargo, which is an additional source of stress and suffering for them, as they are subjected to long journeys by road and air, confined in small wooden crates. From Silabe, the monkeys are sent to their final destination – the research laboratory.

Many of the macaques imported into Europe are destined to be used in toxicity (poisoning) testing in contract research laboratories. Toxicity testing is carried out to assess adverse reactions to drugs or chemicals, primarily for the purpose of developing commercial products for humans. The monkeys are restrained and the drugs are given intravenously (into the bloodstream), subcutaneously (under the skin) or through a tube that is forced into their mouths to reach the stomach. Other means of administration may include onto shaved areas of skin or by being forced to be inhaled in a chamber. Such tests involve immense suffering and can result in vomiting, seizures, weight loss, internal bleeding, organ failure and even death.

Some of the long-tailed macaques exported from Mauritius to Silabe were first generation animals – the offspring of wild-caught parents. The capture and removal of free-living non-human primates from their native habitat and social and family groups is, by its very nature, extremely cruel and results in immense suffering as well as injury and death. The European Union, in recognising the suffering involved in the capture of non-human primates from the wild, is committed to only allowing primates who are the offspring of animals who have been bred in captivity (known as F2/F2+), or who are sourced from self-sustaining colonies to be used in experiments. This requirement comes into effect in November 2022.

The continual involvement of Mauritius in the trade in wild-caught macaques is shocking. In 2020, Action for Primates and One Voice, along with other animal protection groups, launched a campaign against a controversial application by Biosphere Trading, a company in Mauritius that breeds and exports non-human primates for research. The company is seeking to expand its current capacity of 800 monkeys to 7,500 monkeys and wants to capture monkeys from the wild to use for breeding purposes.

Action for Primates and One Voice are calling for a ban on this cruel trade in monkeys' lives. Please join us by writing to the embassies of Mauritius and Vietnam.

Send E-mail to the government of Mauritius:

Send E-mail to the government of Vietnam:

Send E-mail to Air France, urging them to stop transporting non-human primates for research purposes:

Please sign and share these petitions:

2 March 2021: Oxford University and KU Leuven deliberately brain damage monkeys

Rhesus macaque used in brain research, KU Leuven, Belgium; photo credit Canvas documentary 'Dieren als instrumenten'
Rhesus macaque, brain research, KU Leuven, Belgium
photo credit Canvas documentary 'Dieren als instrumenten'

Action for Primates and Animal Rights have joined forces to raise awareness about collaborative non-human primate research involving the University of Oxford in the UK and the KU Leuven in Belgium. The research, which involves macaques being deliberately brain damaged, looks at how the non-human primate brain processes, categorises and memorises visual information. It demonstrates the cruel and inhumane use of non-human primates in this area of research; the psychological and physical suffering endured by the macaques is immense.

This recently published research was carried out at the University of Oxford (1). It also involved researchers from KU Leuven as well as other UK institutions (University of Cambridge and University College London), and Canada (University of Toronto and Rotman Research Institute). The work was approved by the University of Oxford Animal Care and Ethical Review Committee and was supported by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust. The stated aim of the research was to understand the neural mechanisms that support the learning of visuospatial information (a person's capacity to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects).

Rhesus macaque in another laboratory; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Rhesus macaque, brain research, another laboratory
photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

Eight male rhesus macaques were used. Four comprised the experimental group and four the control group. Each group was housed together. The experimental group ...received extensive training on a complex visuospatial task for an average of 17 months to master the rapid learning of new visuospatial information during each testing session. The method of training was not described, but the monkeys were in a transport box fixed to the front of a large touchscreen colour monitor. Food rewards were used when an individual did the task correctly. Many trials were carried out each day, over many days.

The macaques were also subjected to surgery to deliberately damage their brains. This involved anaesthesia and a craniotomy (going through the skull to access their brains). The brain-damaged monkeys were then subjected to further behavioural testing. The brain damage had caused them to become mentally impaired and they had difficulty remembering and learning new things. The four monkeys in the control group were subjected to surgery to have a head post implanted onto the skull, to control and force them to remain in a fixed position.

All the macaques were subjected to several magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans before, during and after the experiment, during which they were placed in a stereotaxic frame in the scanner. At the end of the experiment, those monkeys who had been deliberately brain-damaged were killed by anaesthesia followed by perfusion with a fixing agent through the heart. Their brains were removed.

Oxford University ethics statement on using non-human primates in research:

On its Website, the University of Oxford provides the usual platitudes about using non-human primates in research in an effort to reassure the public that such use is humane and necessary:

The University is aware of the sensitive nature of research work that involves non-human primates... It is accepted that the use of non-human primates is likely to remain necessary for certain limited and clearly defined purposes; however, any proposal to use non-human primates will continue to receive close scrutiny in the preparation and ethical review process to determine whether the objectives could be achieved by using other species or alternative technologies. The University undertakes to reduce the use of non-human primates wherever possible to the bare minimum to achieve research outcomes and to ensure the maximum benefit to medical and research knowledge whilst ensuring the minimum cost to the animals involved.

The study we are reporting here, however, makes it clear that such a statement is completely contrary to the reality of the situation. The minimum cost to the macaques included not only major brain surgery, but also loss of their lives! Would Oxford consider it ethical or humane to do to humans what they regularly do to non-human primates? We have no idea what Oxford's definition of ethical is, but it appears not to be consistent with the understanding that it means to adhere to moral principles.

Further, the authors concluded, relative to their findings, Understanding how these networks function together in the normal primate brain has the potential for earlier detection of brain changes in neurodegenerative disorders that affect reward-guided learning and memory-guided decision-making abilities and identify specific targets for more effective treatment options in the disrupted brain. But such research is highly speculative and the findings with respect to the brain function tested can only be reliably applied to rhesus macaques. The authors also stated, Bilateral fornix damage, as predicted, significantly impaired rapid learning of new visuospatial discriminations in the monkeys. Instead of inflicting harm and suffering on macaques, human volunteers and patients could be used in ethical studies. For example, morally defensible studies using people who have similar naturally or accidentally occurring damage could be carried out, as is done routinely in neuroscience. How does learning about a situation artificially produced in macaques, leading to information only applicable to macaques, conform to the University's assertion of bare minimum use of non-human primates and only for maximum benefit to medical and research knowledge?

The University also presents its work on non-human primates in a way that implies the animals are willing participants who somehow enjoy (implied by using games and stimulating) what they must endure:

...typically spend a couple of hours a day doing behavioural work. This is sitting in front of a computer screen doing learning and memory games for food rewards. No suffering is involved and indeed many of the primates appear to find the games stimulating. They come into the transport cage that takes them to the computer room entirely voluntarily.

This attempt at trivialising and glossing over the trauma, psychological and physical suffering endured by non-human primates is shameful and misleads the public about the inhumanity of what is being done to the animals. Non-human primates used in such brain research are held in captivity, sometimes for many years, deprived of their freedom, subjected to a 'training' regimen that may involve some control over their food or water intake to 'motivate' them to do things, purposefully brain damaged, forced to sit in front of a screen (often further restrained using a head post surgically implanted into their skull) while carrying out multiple repetitive tasks.

Please take action and speak out for these monkeys:

Animal Rights is holding a demonstration at the KU Leuven on the 4th of March 2021. Please support them by signing and sharing their Animal Rights petition: https://www.animalrights.nl/save-ku-leuven-monkeys

Cited reference:

  1. Pelekanos, Vassilis; Premereur, Elsie; Mitchell, Daniel J.; Chakraborty, Subhojit; Mason, Stuart; Lee, Andy C.H. and Mitchell, Anna S. 2020-10-07. "Corticocortical and Thalamocortical Changes in Functional Connectivity and White Matter Structural Integrity after Reward-Guided Learning of Visuospatial Discriminations in Rhesus Monkeys" The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 40(41):7887-7901.

26 February 2021: Indonesia to allow capture and export of 2,070 monkeys for biomedical research during 2021

Young long-tailed macaque trapped in Indonesia; photo credit Pramudya Harzani
Trapped long-tailed macaque
photo credit Pramudya Harzani

Action for Primates is appalled to learn that Indonesia is to allow the capture and export of 2,070 wild long-tailed macaques during 2021 for biomedical research. Not only is this a breach of Indonesian wildlife legislation, that was introduced in the country in 1994 and prohibited such exports of wild macaques, it is also a huge backward step at a time when there is widespread global condemnation of the trapping of wild non-human primates, especially because of the cruelty and suffering caused by the forcibly removal from their natural habitat, social and family groups.

The resumption of capturing and exporting wild long-tailed macaques by Indonesia is an alarming development. Several official bodies and organisations recognise the suffering involved in the capturing of wild non-human primates. For example, the International Primatological Society has stated:

...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
Long-tailed macaque trapped in Indonesia; photo credit Pramudya Harzani
Trapped long-tailed macaque
photo credit Pramudya Harzani

The European Union recognised that 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 capture of animals from the wild for research, including for purposes of breeding, the European Union Directive (2010/63/EU) introduced provisions with the objective of moving towards using only non-human primates who have been bred in self-sustaining colonies, from parents who themselves have been bred in captivity. The implementation date for these new provisions has been set for 2022.

Long-tailed macaques are indigenous to Indonesia and are part of the rich and diverse ecosystem, contributing to the country's unique biodiversity. The species is listed under Appendix II on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Further, there has been a 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. The species has now been listed as 'Vulnerable' with a decreasing population trend.

Long-tailed macaques trapped in Indonesia; photo credit Pramudya Harzani
Trapped long-tailed macaques
photo credit Pramudya Harzani

The reason often cited by authorities for allowing the capture of long-tailed macaques is that the animals are coming into 'conflict' with residents and farmers in local communities. An ever-increasing expansion and encroachment into wildlife habitat by people is the primary cause for these 'conflicts', not the fault of the macaques. Rather than allowing wild macaques to be trapped and exported for research, Action for Primates urges the authorities to resolve the issues that lead to negative interactions, such as deforestation and disposal of food waste that results in macaques being attracted to human settlements.

Please join us by calling on the Government of Indonesia to 1) stop the capture and export of long-tailed macaques, and instead to enact legislation that provides protection for this indigenous macaque population and 2) to adopt humane and preventative methods that can be used to resolve 'conflicts' without resorting to the capture and export of macaques for research.

Send polite E-mail to:

18 February 2021: Monkeys subjected to spinal cord damage in Swiss experiment*

Long-tailed macaques in laboratory cage; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques in laboratory cage
photo SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

The research, published in January 2021, was carried out at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland (1). Funding was from several sources, including the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and the research was approved by the local veterinary authorities of the Canton of Fribourg. The researchers declared the following Competing interests: three were shareholders and founders of GTX medical, a company producing spinal cord stimulation technologies and who provided part of the research funding, and five were inventors of multiple patent applications and had been granted patents covering parts of this work.

Five long-tailed macaques were used and were subjected to deliberate spinal cord damage. This involved major surgery to remove parts of their vertebrae to implant spinal electrodes as well as to have muscle electrodes implanted. Electrical stimulation was then applied to parts of their spinal cord to study arm and hand movements. Three of the macaques were used in terminal procedures and underwent electrophysiological tests. They were killed before waking up from the surgery. The other two macaques were used for acute procedures in which they were anaesthetised, underwent electrophysiological tests and were then allowed to recover. The researchers state that one of the monkeys had been trained (although they do not describe how) to reach, grasp and pull an object using a robotic framework designed by the researchers.

Human patients with similar spinal surgeries were also tested.

Despite the authors' assertion that All procedures were carried out in accordance to...the principle of the 3Rs...,** essentially similar or at least clinically relevant data were obtained from people who had spinal surgery. The authors also cited numerous studies on people with spinal cord injury, studies that have resulted in considerable knowledge about spinal cord injury in people.

Please speak out for these monkeys by sending polite E-mail to the authority that approved this research. Ask them why they approved research that was scientifically unnecessary and involved deliberate mutilation and suffering in these monkeys. More importantly, urge them to stop approving the use of non-human primates, who are non-consenting and unwilling participants:

Reference:

  1. Greiner, Nathan; Barra, Beatrice; Schiavone, Giuseppe; Lorach, Henri; James, Nicholas; Conti, Sara; Kaeser, Melanie; Fallegger, Florian; Borgognon, Simon; Lacour, Stéphanie; Bloch, Jocelyne; Courtine, Grégoire and Capogrosso, Marco. 2021-01-19. "Recruitment of upper-limb motoneurons with epidural electrical stimulation of the cervical spinal cord" Nature Communications 12(1):435.

* Readers should be aware that we report only a tiny fraction of the highly invasive and fatal research done on non-human primates. We review dozens of these publications every week.

** The 3Rs stand for Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. The goal is to replace animal experiments whenever possible, use the fewest number of animals (reduction) and minimise suffering (refinement).

8 February 2021: Monkeys subjected to multiple surgeries, demanding physical tasks pulling weights and death to study 'strength training'

Rhesus macaque in cage in European laboratory; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Rhesus macaque in cage, European laboratory
photo SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

The work was done at the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University in the UK, approved by the Animal Welfare and Research Ethics Board of Newcastle University and funded by the Wellcome Trust and Reece Foundation (1).

The aim of the research was to compare the relative contributions of various neural pathways associated with strength (resistance) training.

Two female rhesus macaques identified as Monkeys N and L, were used. They had been trained to perform a strength task using food rewards, but no further details were provided on the training process. The monkeys were then subjected to two surgeries. In the first, a skull restraint device was implanted and electrodes were implanted into muscles in their hands, arms, shoulders and chest. In the second surgery, two electrodes were implanted into the macaques' brains. Monkey L underwent a third surgery to implant another electrode into the brain in order to stimulate the reward centre to motivate her to undertake the strength training.

After the surgeries, the macaques underwent strength training protocols that were done five days a week for 12-13 weeks. The animals were restrained inside a cage (see article photo of monkey in test chamber) by their head using the skull headpiece implant and a collar placed around their neck. A further restraint was attached to their left arm to prevent it from being used. A pulley system with weights was used and the monkeys had to pull on a handle, through a hole in the cage, using only their right hand. Recordings were made while the macaques did the task.

Testing chamber for monkey; https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1923-19.2020
Testing chamber for monkey
https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1923-19.2020

The weights were gradually increased day by day until the weights were equivalent to the macaques' own body weight. The macaques were forced to carry out 150 trials on each day.

After the 12-13 week strength training period, the monkeys continued for another three months, carrying out 20-30 trials 5 days per week. They were then subjected to further surgery, involving a craniotomy (the surgical removal of part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain) and a laminectomy (the removal of part or all of the vertebral bone to expose the spinal cord). New electrodes were inserted and the animals were kept alive under terminal anesthesia while more recordings were made, before finally being killed and their bodies dissected.

This was pure basic science research with no clinical applicability cited, and no suggestion of treating a human disease, nor can the data be uncritically applied to people. Further, the authors admitted that, The human strength training literature has used noninvasive techniques to investigate the neural changes associated with strength gains. There is no question that similar data, using electrocardiography, electromyography, functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography – procedures routinely done in people for diagnostic and research purposes – could be derived from human volunteers. Instead, the researchers subjected two sentient beings to multiple surgeries and physically demanding tasks before killing them. They seemed to be proud that they ...provide the first report of a strength training intervention in nonhuman primates.

Newcastle University claims that they are ...committed to the principles of the 3Rs. These involve Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. The University also claims a ...policy of using animals in research only if there are no realistic alternatives and in projects of major importance. UK standards of care are among the highest in the world, and we strictly enforce them. Replacement, as defined by Newcastle University, is to use ...methods which avoid or replace the use of animals. We believe strongly that the principle of Replacement and their stated policy were violated by this study. Sophisticated and humane methods of studying the phenomenon of strength training have been and can continue to be studied in human volunteers. There is no need for subjugating, causing to suffer and killing non-human primates.

We hope you will send polite E-mail to the Newcastle University Animal Welfare Ethical Review Board (AWERB) and express your concern for the suffering and waste of life approved by them:

Reference:

  1. Glover, Isabel S. and Baker, Stuart N. 2020-07-22. "Cortical, Corticospinal, and Reticulospinal Contributions to Strength Training" The Journal of Neuroscience 40(30):5820-5832.
  2. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

1 February 2021: Monkeys rescued from YouTube channel animal abuser

Confiscation of monkeys by DKI Jakarta Government Officials and members of JAAN
Confiscation of monkeys
DKI Jakarta Government Officials
members of JAAN

Action for Primates is delighted that, following our work with Jakarta Animal Aid (JAAN), the three monkeys who were abused and filmed for 'entertainment' by the YouTube channel Abang Satwa (previously called 'Monkey Raging') have been confiscated by the Indonesian authorities. The three long-tailed macaques, called Boris, Monna and Boim, are now safely at the JAAN rescue centre and can begin their new life free from the torment and cruelty to which they were being subjected daily. See our News page for photos of these three individuals in their temporary quarters at JAAN.

Confiscation of monkeys by DKI Jakarta Government Officials and members of JAAN
Confiscation of monkeys
DKI Jakarta Government Officials
members of JAAN

Examples of this person's cruel behaviour towards the monkeys include spraying them with jets of water, rubbing obnoxious substances such as glue or chilli onto their food, lighting firecrackers and sparklers to scare them and encouraging the monkeys to fight each other by teasing them with food. He posts these videos with sound tracks and commentary.

We are grateful to Dr Anies Baswedan, Governor of Jakarta, Satpol PP South Jakarta Administrative City, the local government / pemda DKI and others who responded and confiscated these monkeys.

Thank you to everyone who took action and sent E-mail on behalf of these abused monkeys. Animal cruelty in the guise of 'entertainment' must never be tolerated and it is shameful that YouTube and other social media platforms continue to allow such content to be posted.

What you can do to help in this success story:

29 January 2021: Indonesia resumes export of long-tailed macaques for research purposes

Long-tailed macaques in Indonesian research facility; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques, Indonesian research facility
photo credit Cruelty Free International

Indonesia has re-started the export of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) to be used in experiments. According to data submitted by Indonesia to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), 1,500 monkeys were exported to China and 69 to Denmark during 2019. This follows a four-year period (2015-2018) when there were no exports recorded for long-tailed macaques from Indonesia. In 2017 and 2018, Indonesia recorded the export of 160 pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) to the USA.

Action for Primates is concerned that the monkeys, reportedly exported for 'trade' purposes, were either used in research or for breeding to produce offspring to be used in research.

Long-tailed macaques are indigenous to Indonesia and are part of the rich and diverse ecosystem, contributing to the country's unique biodiversity. The species is not protected under Indonesian law, however, and can be captured from the wild by breeding companies supplying laboratories in Indonesia and elsewhere. There is also a widespread domestic trade in wild-caught long-tailed macaques to be sold at markets and into the 'pet' trade.

Long-tailed macaques are listed under Appendix II on CITES, which means they are considered vulnerable. Further, there has been a 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. The species has now been listed as 'Vulnerable' with a decreasing population trend. The resumption of exporting long-tailed macaques by Indonesia is an alarming development, one that will further negatively impact this species.

Please take action on behalf of the monkeys by joining our call to the Government of Indonesia to enact legislation that protects the indigenous long-tailed macaque population from exploitation for research, entertainment and the 'pet' trade.

Send polite E-mail to:

21 January 2021: US researchers involved in inescapable electric foot shocks and more to study 'depression' in monkeys

Long-tailed macaques in a laboratory; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques in a laboratory
photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

Young monkeys were deliberately subjected to extremely cruel and barbaric treatment in an attempt to simulate human teenage depression (1). Although this recently published research was done at Chongqing Medical University in China and supported mostly with Chinese funding, there are two US authors, one from Wake Forest School of Medicine and another from Virginia Commonwealth University. The work was approved by the Ethics Committee of Chongqing Medical University, but there is no mention of any oversight or decisions by ethics committees at either of the US facilities. The latter is disturbing in and of itself.

In the research, ten male adolescent long-tailed macaques, some less than two years old, were used. They were housed singly in cages. The 'experimental' group (as opposed to those serving as 'controls') were subjected to chronic unpredictable mild stress for seven days, and then observed for four days. This cycle was repeated four more times. The stressors the monkeys were subjected to, in some cases lasting 24 hours, included:

Fig. 1: Overview of the experiment protocol; Teng et al; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-01132-6
Fig. 1: Overview of the experiment protocol
Teng et al; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-01132-6

Noise: A buzzer with a 100 decibel shrill chirp was placed in the monkeys' room for 12 hours from 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM the following day. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noise above just 70 decibels over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing.
Water deprivation: The monkeys were deprived of water for 12 hours from 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM the following day.
Food deprivation: The monkeys were deprived of food for 24 hours from 8:00 AM to 8:00 AM the following day.
Space restriction: The cage space of the monkeys was restricted by a push-pull device for four hours from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
Cold stress: The monkeys were sprayed with 10°C water for ten minutes. Although long-tailed macaques are known for their affinity for water, the natural conditions do not involve such cold water nor for such an extended period. Further, under natural conditions, the macaques emerge into a warm and usually sunny environment so that they can dry off quickly.
Exposure to stroboscope: Flashing stroboscopes were placed facing the monkey cages for 12 hours from 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM the following day. Flicker causes disturbance and can cause physiological effects such as headaches, at least in people.
Inescapable foot shocks: The monkeys were exposed to foot shocks by an electric shock stick from which they could not escape. The shock was 6 volts lasting 10-15 seconds with intervals of ten seconds. The monkeys received 3-4 rounds of this.

Two different stressors were used each day. The macaques' behaviour was observed and recorded, their weight was recorded and certain standard 'tests' were done to see the difference between 'controls' and stressed individuals. The researchers were looking for both depressive-like behaviours and anxiety-like behaviours, such as a huddle posture, self-clasping with head at or below the shoulders.

This is a shocking and damning indictment of the appalling way in which non-human primates are abused in the name of science. The mental anguish and torment these monkeys must have suffered is unimaginable. As a gesture to ethics, the researchers provided the monkeys with an eight-hour window each day when they allowed the animals social contact with each other, toys (already scientifically proven to be of only transient value) and fruit and vegetables (apart from those of food deprivation) ...to meet experimental requirements set by the institutional animal care and use committee..., which they admit may have influenced the outcome of the study.

The researchers were trying to establish a non-human primate 'model' for human adolescent depression, and yet their paper states that ...youth with depression experience more serious impairments in global functioning, an increased risk of tobacco smoking and other substance abuse2. Moreover, suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents; and among depressed youth, 29% experience suicidal thoughts and 11% attempt suicide4. All these depressive behaviours, critical in understanding and helping troubled human adolescents, are not reproducible in non-human primates, rendering the authors' abjectly inhumane 'model' of no relevance.

The researchers stated that they were able to ...induce depressive-like and anxiety-like behaviors... in macaques. By using such terms, however, the authors clearly acknowledge that their 'model' is only superficially similar to the situation seen in adolescent human teenagers. Despite this, the researchers conclude that subjecting macaques to chronic stress provides ...a promising model to study the mechanisms underlying adolescent depression. No amount of artificial and cruel stressors inflicted on macaques can compare with the complex emotional, genetic and environmental stressors that cause mental illness and depression in human teenagers.

The Wake Forest School of Medicine claims that the goal of their Animal Welfare Program ...is to ensure that animals at Wake Forest are always treated ethically and humanely. Virginia Commonwealth University states that their Animal research program places ...the ethical treatment of animals as a primary responsibility and the founding principal [sic] of our animal care and use program and that they employ the ...ethical mandates, known as 'The Three Rs' of animal research (Reduction, Replacement and Refinement). Did these institutions approve the involvement of their representatives in research that was not only extremely cruel, but also of no scientific merit? Would they consider the research they endorsed, albeit indirectly, to be 'humane'?

Because we were concerned that there was no oversight mentioned in the article for allowing US-based researchers to take part in this abjectly inhumane experiment, Action for Primates wrote to each institution (Wake Forest School of Medicine; Virginia Commonwealth University), asking for clarification. Neither institution provided any information. It is important that these institutions are contacted, so that they can appreciate the level of concern by the public.

Please take action for these monkeys by contacting the US-based institutions and ask whether they provided any oversight on allowing their faculty to perform the above research and, if they did, how they could have approved a situation that clearly was contrary to their stated policies. Politely urge them to prohibit their researchers from participating in any future collaborative research with China involving depression research on non-human primates.

Reference:

  1. Teng, Teng; Shively, Carol A.; Li, Xuemei; Jiang, Xiaofeng; Neigh, Gretchen N.; Yin, Bangmin; Zhang, Yuqing; Fan, Li; Xiang, Yajie; Wang, Mingyang; Liu, Xueer; Qin, Mengchang; Zhou, Xinyu and Xie, Peng. 2021-01-04. "Chronic unpredictable mild stress produces depressive-like behavior, hypercortisolemia, and metabolic dysfunction in adolescent cynomolgus monkeys" Translational Psychiatry 11(1):9.
  2. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

15 January 2021: Squirrel monkey tails immersed in hot water in pain research

Squirrel monkey living freely in Colombia; photo credit Diego Guzmán on Unsplash
Squirrel monkey, Colombia
photo Diego Guzmán on Unsplash

An unknown number of male squirrel monkeys were used in this publicly funded research at the McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts, USA (1). The monkeys were subjected to what is called the tail withdrawal latency assay to look at behaviour and the effect of opioids in blocking the detection of pain.

The monkeys had the last ten cm of their tails kept shaved of hair to provide a surface that would be more readily impacted by the hot water. They had been trained using a fluid reward (sweetened condensed milk) and had to respond to lights to get the reward. The monkeys were restrained in Plexiglas devices with their tails hanging freely behind them. The shaved ends of their tails were immersed for up to ten seconds in water that was heated to 50°, 52° and 55° Celsius (122°, 125.6° and 131° Fahrenheit, respectively). The authors even stated that 55° Celsius was very hot. Water at such a temperature would be painful for a person's hand, can lead to second degree burns in 17 seconds and third degree burns in 30 seconds.

The test was to see if the opioid drug the monkeys were given would alter the time before the monkeys withdrew their tails or how it would otherwise affect the response of the monkeys to the 'task' they had to perform in order to get a reward.

Squirrel monkeys (possibly the same individuals used in the hot water tail immersion tests) were also acclimated to small, round, plastic chambers and exposed to air or a mixture of carbon dioxide (CO2) to see what effects the drug had on their breathing under these circumstances. The animals experienced respiratory depression (hypoventilation; a breathing disorder characterised by slow and ineffective breathing).

The authors stated there was no visible damage to the animals. Nevertheless, it is unquestionable that immersing the monkeys' shaved tails into very hot water would have resulted pain. There is no information provided on the fate of the squirrel monkeys.

Please speak out for these and other monkeys being used at McLean Hospital. Send polite E-mail to voice your objection to such inhumane and pointless 'research':

Action for Primates letter to Harvard University IACUC (McLean Hospital is an affiliate of Harvard University Medical School)

Reference:

  1. Wang, Meining; Irvin, Thomas C.; Herdman, Christine A.; Hanna, Ramsey D.; Hassan, Sergio A.; Lee, Yong-Sok; Kaska, Sophia; Crowley, Rachel Saylor; Prisinzano, Thomas E.; Withey, Sarah L.; Paronis, Carol A.; Bergman, Jack; Inan, Saadet; Geller, Ellen B.; Adler, Martin W.; Kopajtic, Theresa A.; Katz, Jonathan L.; Chadderdon, Aaron M.; Traynor, John R.; Jacobson, Arthur E. and Rice, Kenner C. 2020-06-06. "The Intriguing Effects of Substituents in the N-Phenethyl Moiety of Norhydromorphone: A Bifunctional Opioid from a Set of "Tail Wags Dog" Experiments" Molecules : A Journal of Synthetic Chemistry and Natural Product Chemistry 25(11):E2640.
  2. Article freely available under Creative Commons license link.

7 January 2021: Renewed call to Carlsberg Foundation to stop funding high altitude and other cruel experiments on non-human primates

Long-tailed macaques in laboratory; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz and Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques in laboratory
photo credit SOKO Tierschutz & Cruelty Free International

Action for Primates has received a response from the Carlsberg Foundation, following our recent highlighting of the disturbing use of monkeys in high altitude research carried out in China, in which one of the authors was funded by a grant from the Carlsberg Foundation. The response did not express concern about supporting such cruel research in which the monkeys suffered substantially. Further, they stated: ...we do not have our own policy on animal experiments but always expect our grantees to abide by the rules of the institution at which the grantee is employed. If you have not already done so, we urge you to write to the Carlsberg Foundation and politely call on it to adopt a policy and to stop funding high altitude and other cruel experiments on non-human primates. Thank you to everyone who has already written.

In the research, long-tailed macaques were subjected to hypobaric hypoxia that simulated travelling rapidly up to 7,500 metres (over four miles), which reduced the concentration of available oxygen. Hypobaric hypoxia is a condition where the body is deprived of oxygen, causing severe brain injury and abnormal behaviour. They were held at this high 'altitude' for 48 hours and then killed.

Please send polite E-mail:

Click here to see our original alert on this issue.

5 January 2021: Call for action to be taken by Jakarta police against monkey tormentor on YouTube

Monkey forced to endure attack on Abang Satwa YouTube channel
Monkey cruelty on Abang Satwa
YouTube

Sickening videos showing monkeys being cruelly treated and abused are regularly posted on YouTube channels, and other social media platforms, to 'entertain' viewers. One such YouTube channel (Abang Satwa) is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The person who runs the channel regularly posts videos in which he torments and abuses captive monkeys he keeps imprisoned at home on chains and in small cages, while asking people to send donations via PayPal. Examples of his cruel behaviour towards the monkeys include spraying them with jets of water, rubbing obnoxious substances such as glue or chilli onto their food, lighting firecrackers and sparklers to scare them and encouraging the monkeys to fight each other by teasing them with food. He posts these videos with sound tracks and commentary. As much as the cruelty and tormenting are shocking, the supporting comments posted by viewers, with suggestions of further cruel things that can be done to the monkeys, are also disturbing.

YouTube has failed to respond to calls to block this channel. The individual running this YouTube channel was also reported to the South Jakarta police by Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN). The Jakarta police have so far failed to take action, despite having previously been involved in confiscating monkeys being cruelly treated by other individuals. We are, therefore, taking our appeal to the Governor of Jakarta to urge him to take this animal cruelty seriously. Please join us in calling on the Governor to 1) confiscate these monkeys and relocate them to a genuine animal sanctuary and 2) ban the individual who runs Abang Satwa from obtaining monkeys and any other animals.

What you can do to help stop this abuse; please be polite when you E-mail these people:

2 January 2021: Monkeys killed to study effects of stress on menstrual cycles

Long-tailed macaque in laboratory; photo SOKO Tierschutz and Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaque in laboratory
photo SOKO Tierschutz and Cruelty Free International

Long-tailed macaques have been used to study the effects of stress on their reproductive function, in an attempt to simulate human female functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea (FHA). The human condition is a type of infertility – a sustained absence of normal menstrual cycles – linked to stress. The recently published work (1) was carried out at the University of Pittsburgh and approved by their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. It was supported entirely by public funds (NIH).

Twenty-seven female long-tailed macaques aged between 7-13 years were imported specifically for this experiment. They were housed singly. The monkeys were exposed to a combination of stressful stimuli which involved their being moved to a new housing room, where they were surrounded by unfamiliar animals, having their diet reduced by 25% and forced to run for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week on a motorised treadmill. The effect of test drugs on reproductive cycling during two of the 'stress cycles' was also studied. At the end of the experiment, all the macaques were killed so that their brains could be removed for further study.

Previous similar research by the authors, published in 2008, provided details on how the human size motorised treadmills (Precor Model 910e) were used. The treadmills were enclosed by a Plexiglass® box that contained holes for air. The monkeys were initially allowed to walk slowly for about one week. Then they were given a 'max' test to establish the maximum rate which they were capable of running. The treadmill was set for the monkeys to start running at 0.8 miles/hour and speed was then increased 0.2 miles/hour every two minutes until the monkeys failed to be able to keep up with the pace of the treadmill. In this original experiment, the monkeys were forced to run one hour a day, five days a week. In the present experiment, however, the monkeys were forced to run for less time each day ...because several treadmills broke (beyond repair) and no funds were available for the purchase of new treadmills.

Deliberately treating non-human primates as disposable 'things' by placing them in these stressful situations – including forcing them to run on treadmills, depriving them of food, scaring them with strangers and then killing them – is any rational person's definition of cruel treatment. It is not only morally unconscionable, it is also a clear contradiction to the three Rs the research community claim they follow: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. The issue of reproductive disorders in people has been and is continuing to be studied in people, providing the only source of information directly applicable to people.

Please speak out for the monkeys, by sending polite E-mail to the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (Animal Research Protections) which ...oversees the university's animal programs, facilities, and procedures insuring the appropriate care, use, and humane treatments of animals being used for research, testing, and education, urging it to stop approving this research:

Reference:

  1. Bethea, Cynthia L. and Cameron, Judy L. 2020-12-12. "Neuro-pharmacological reinstatement of ovulation and associated neurobiology in a macaque model of functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea" Human Reproduction (Oxford, England) ePub:deaa296.