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Action for Primates

Long-tailed macaques, photo by Sarah Kite

News 2022

The following are news items we have posted in 2022. See elsewhere for news from previous years.


5 May 2022: Over 34,000 monkeys imported into the US during 2021 for laboratory use

Captured long-tailed macaque in Indonesia; credit Action for Primates
Captured long-tailed macaque, Indonesia
credit Action for Primates

During 2021, over 34,000 non-human primates were imported into the USA by the research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. The majority of these individuals – 33,873 – were long-tailed macaques, primarily imported from Cambodia and Mauritius. The data released by US Fish & Wildlife show that 17,004 individuals were imported from Cambodia and 9,075 from Mauritius, both figures greater than those for 2020. Long-tailed macaques were also imported from Vietnam, China, Indonesia and the Philippines. Other non-human primate species imported during 2021 included rhesus macaques, African green monkeys, capuchins and marmosets. Some of the monkeys imported by the US had been captured in the wild or were the off-spring of wild-caught parents, with facilities continuing to capture monkeys from wild populations for breeding purposes. The monkeys are transported around the world in the cargo hold of aeroplanes, on airlines such as Egyptair and Air France. Confined for around 25 hours or more in small transit crates, they are forced to endure long journeys and may experience inadequate ventilation, unfamiliar and loud noises, temperature and humidity fluctuations as well as delays en-route.

Mother and infant long-tailed macaques on Mauritius monkey 'farm'; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Mother, infant long-tailed macaques, Mauritius 'farm'
credit Cruelty Free International

Action for Primates recently released harrowing footage of the brutal capture of wild long-tailed macaques in Indonesia (click here to view ; contains distressing scenes).

The long-tailed macaque is the most heavily traded non-human primate species for the global research and testing industry, with the US being one of the world's greatest importers and users of this species. Across SE Asia and in Mauritius, tens of thousands of macaques are imprisoned in small, concrete pens in large commercial holding and breeding facilities, denied their freedom and the lush foliage of their jungle homes.

Long-tailed macaques are imported by global companies such as Envigo and Charles River and are primarily used in toxicity (poisoning) testing, carried out to assess adverse reactions to drugs or their chemical ingredients, primarily for the purpose of developing commercial products for use by human beings. The tests are carried out using different concentrations of the test substance, over different periods of time. The monkeys are exposed to the substances through different means, including intravenously (directly into the bloodstream) and orally (through a tube that is pushed down the oesophagus into the stomach). All the monkeys are killed at the end of each test, with some of them suffering immensely before this.

Long-tailed macaques in airline transport crates; credit Action for Primates
Long-tailed macaques, airline transport crates
credit Action for Primates

Much of the other research involving non-human primates in the US is publicly funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Many comprise deplorable addiction research in which monkeys are forced to become addicted to or ingest various substances – such as alcohol (ethanol), cocaine and heroin and methamphetamine – in the misguided notion that this will somehow provide answers to substance abuse in people. In others, long-tailed macaques are deliberately stressed by depriving them of food or forcing them to run on a motorised treadmill in order to see the effects on reproduction or their menstrual cycles. In still others, the monkeys are forced to consume 'Mediterranean' or 'Western-style' human diets in order to see how these affect their behaviour or bodily functions, despite the information already readily available as a result of similar studies in people.

26 February 2022: Alcohol and other drug addiction research on non-human primates flourishes in the US

Olive baboon in a research cage; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Olive baboon in research cage
credit Cruelty Free International

In this research, monkeys are forced to become addicted to various substances – such as alcohol (ethanol), cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine – in the misguided notion that this will somehow provide answers to substance abuse in people. Shockingly, non-human primates have been used in such drug addiction research for more than 70 years, and it continues with no end in sight. The projects are primarily paid for by taxpayer funds distributed to various institutions by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its many agencies.

Drug addiction in people involves considerably more than simply abusing certain substances. The complex combination of factors at play, such as genetics, emotional and personal experiences and socioeconomic aspects, can never be simulated or resolved through non-human primate research aimed at a 'silver bullet' solution. The millions of tax dollars spent on trying to turn monkeys into surrogates for human drug addiction could be better used to directly help the millions of people who suffer from substance abuse.

Below are examples of such research published over the last few years and which we have reviewed. Unfortunately for the monkeys, these comprise only a limited view of what is extant.

Baboons forced to drink alcohol daily for up to 12 years
In this research done at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland, nine adult male olive baboons were forced to drink alcohol every day, seven days a week, for up to 12 years. Their gastrointestinal contents were studied. The protocol was approved by the Johns Hopkins University Animal Care and Use Committee, and funding was essentially entirely through public funds from the National Institutes of Health and branches. Click here for more information

Rhesus macaques fed cannabis to study effects on reproduction
Six adult male rhesus macaques were forced to become heavy users of marijuana in this research carried out at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), Oregon Health & Science University. The intent of the research was to see the effects on male reproduction. It was approved by the ONPRC Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and supported almost entirely with public funds (NIH and its branches). Click here for more information

Rhesus macaques forced to become cocaine addicts
Fourteen adult male rhesus macaques were deprived of water so that they could be 'trained' to self-administer cocaine at the University of Pittsburgh. The work was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the University of Pittsburgh and funded entirely with public funds through the National Institutes of Health. Click here for more information

Baboons forced to drink vodka in addiction experiments
Baboons were forced to become 'alcoholics' using sweetened vodka (Stolichnaya brand, Stoli Group, NY), in order to test the effects of a drug on their drinking. The work was done at New York State Psychiatric Institute (part of Columbia University) and approved by the New York State Psychiatric Institute Animal Care and Use Committee. It was funded by public funds through the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant AA023879 and privately through the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation. Click here for more information

Squirrel monkey living freely in South America; photo Fabrizio Cianella, Dreamstime
Squirrel monkey living freely
photo Fabrizio Cianella, Dreamstime

Squirrel monkeys injected with opioid drug to simulate human behaviour
Ten adult male common squirrel monkeys were injected with the opioid drug remifentanil in an effort to create surrogates for human drug addiction. The work was done at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA, a branch of the NIH), Baltimore, Maryland, and funded entirely by public funds through NIDA. It was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the NIDA Intramural Research Program. Click here for more information

Monkeys forced to become binge drinkers and cocaine users
Twelve adult male rhesus macaques were used in this research carried out at Wake Forest School of Medicine, North Carolina. The work was approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of Wake Forest University and funded entirely with public funds via National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA; a branch of the NIH) grant DA039953. By 18 days, the macaques were drinking amounts the researchers called a binge-like pattern. This was continued for five days a week for about nine months before the macaques were forced to take cocaine, euphemistically referred to as self-administration. Click here for more information

Squirrel monkeys injected daily with cannabis to study human teenage drug use
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 DA042178) and Harvard University. The monkeys were injected with the active ingredient of cannabis to see its effects on behaviour. Click here for more information