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Action for Primates

Long-tailed macaques, photo by Sarah Kite

Take Action on Behalf of Non-human Primates 2022

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


In addition to the Action for Primates Take Action entries, here are petitions you can sign and share to help non-human primates around the world:


20 May 2022: Join call to Air France to end monkey flights of misery

Air France transit crates filled with long-tailed macaques; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Air France shipping crates with monkeys inside
credit Cruelty Free International

Air France is a major transporter of non-human primates for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing. Every year, the airline flies thousands of monkeys across the world from Mauritius and Vietnam, destined for laboratories in Europe and the USA (click here for short video).

On 25th April 2022, Air France 473, an overnight passenger flight from Mauritius, landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in Paris, probably full of tourists having enjoyed the in-flight comforts, unaware that below their feet in the dark and noisy cargo hold, were 79 unwilling and terrified 'passengers': monkeys torn from their families and social groups and imprisoned in small crates, destined for Charles River in Scotland (AWB 057-97225376). The monkeys were exported by Bioculture, one of several companies in Mauritius that export monkeys for research and toxicity testing. A concerned worker at CDG alerted us after learning of the plight of these long-tailed macaques shipped as cargo on the 11-hour journey.

Air France transit crates filled with long-tailed macaques; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Air France shipping crates with monkeys inside
credit Cruelty Free International

We urge people to consider those monkeys who could be imprisoned in the cargo hold below their feet, terrified and alone and a very long way from home, before using Air France. Instead, choose an airline that refuses to ship monkeys thousands of miles around the world to end their days suffering and dying in the cold metal cages of a laboratory.

Please join One Voice, Action for Primates and Stop Camarles in our call to Air France to stop transporting non-human primates and to join the many other airlines that refuse to play a role in this cruel and immoral trade (for more information on the issue, see below the action section):


The global trade in non-human primates for research is an abominable and brutal business that is responsible for shipping tens of thousands of monkeys around the world. Air France flights from Vietnam and Mauritius to the USA involve many hours of flying time with a stop-over in Paris.

At the end of their nightmare journeys, these monkeys are destined to spend their lives in a metal cage thousands of miles away from their families and subjected to experiments and tests that will cause them to suffer unimaginably with death at the end; a far cry from living freely in their jungle homes.

Many of the macaques transported by Air France are destined for European primate supply companies, including Silabe (Simian Laboratory Europe) and Bioprim in France and Camarney S.L in Spain. The monkeys are then moved on to laboratories and contract testing facilities across Europe, including France, Italy, Germany and the UK, where they are destined to be used in toxicity (poisoning) tests. 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 by various means, including intravenously (directly into the bloodstream) or injected through a tube that is forced into their mouths to reach the stomach. Such tests involve immense suffering and can result in vomiting, seizures, weight loss, internal bleeding, organ failure and even death. Those who do not die are all killed at the end of the tests to study their organs.

Other examples of Air France flights include:

16th May 2022: 200 long-tailed macaques were exported from Bioculture in Mauritius to Bioculture USA, via Charles de Gaulle Airport to Chicago (ORD); total journey time was around 20 hours (AWB 057-97261581) with several hours stopover in Paris

14th April 2022: 100 long-tailed macaques were transported from Mauritius to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) (AWB 057-03172013); we suspect the monkeys were flown from France by cargo carrier BinAir, arriving at Manchester Airport, a key destination for monkeys imported into the UK, then by road to Labcorp, a global contract research company in Harrogate

13th March 2022: 80 long-tailed macaques were exported by Vietnam Monkey Breeding & Development Joint Venture Company, from Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) to Paris (Charles de Gaulle)

13th February 2022: 120 long-tailed macaques were exported by Vietnam Monkey Breeding & Development Joint Venture Company, from Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) to Paris (Charles de Gaulle)

Following international concern, numerous passenger airlines ended their involvement in the cruelty and suffering caused by the international trade in non-human primates, by refusing to transport monkeys for laboratory use. These include American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, Eva Air, Air Canada, China Airlines and Kenya Airways. Many other passenger airlines and cargo companies have also declared their intent to not become involved in this cruel trade. Air France, however, continues to ship these cargoes of suffering and misery despite strong public opposition.

4 May 2022: Please call on Egyptair to stop transporting monkeys to laboratories

Long-tailed macaques in airline transport crates
Long-tailed macaques in airline transport crates

Action for Primates has been alerted to the role of Egyptair in the global trade in non-human primates for the research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. The airline is involved in transporting long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) from Cambodia and Mauritius to the USA. A concerned airport worker at John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) recently informed us about 720 monkeys on board an Egyptair cargo flight from Cambodia to JFK via Cairo. The monkeys, each imprisoned inside individual compartments of 144 transit crates (Airway Bill 077-5042-6644), endured a gruelling and traumatic ordeal of around 22 hours of flying time with a 5-1/2 hour stop-over in Cairo. This total, however, does not include the many additional hours these monkeys were held in crates on the journey to and at the airport in Cambodia. They will also have to endure the long journey by road from the airport to the final destination, on this occasion Envigo, a global contract testing corporation. Their fate there will be unimaginable suffering and death, far from home and family.

The cramped conditions inside the transit crates do not permit the monkeys to move normally. In addition, the monkeys carried as 'cargo' may be forced to endure inadequate ventilation, unfamiliar and loud noises, temperature and humidity fluctuations as well as delays en-route. Statistics for primate deaths and illnesses either during transportation or subsequently are generally not publicised. On 15th November 2021, however, several monkeys were found dead on board a Wamos Air flight from Cambodia to Houston, Texas.

Juvenile long-tailed macaques at a breeding farm in Cambodia; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Juvenile long-tailed macaques, Cambodia breeding farm
credit Cruelty Free International

Cambodia is a major supplier of long-tailed macaques for laboratory use, and every year exports many thousands of individuals to the USA. The monkeys are held in industrial-scale commercial breeding facilities. Imprisoned in their thousands in concrete pens, they are denied their freedom and the lush foliage of their jungle homes, often just a few metres from their prisons. The long-tailed macaque is the most heavily traded non-human primate species for the global research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry, with the US importing, using and killing more of these individuals than almost anywhere else.

As a result of widespread global public concern, many of the world's leading airlines that once were major transporters of monkeys to laboratories – including American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, South African Airways, Air China, China Airlines, Delta Airlines, Eva Air and Air Canada – ended their involvement in this cruel business. Kenya Airways is the latest airline to make this compassionate move. Many other passenger airlines and cargo companies have also declared their intent to not become involved in this immoral trade in lives.

Please join Action for Primates by sending E-mail to Egyptair, even if you have done so recently, urging the airline to stop transporting monkeys for the global research and toxicity testing industry:

21 April 2022: End cruelty to baby monkeys in Cambodia for social media

Infant macaque treated as a toy; photo credit Lady Freethinker & Action for Primates
Infant macaque treated as toy
credit Lady Freethinker & Action for Primates

In Cambodia, keeping wild infant monkeys in human households and raising them as 'pets' to use for online entertainment on social media platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook, has become a trend. The infants are paraded in front of the cameras, dressed in human baby clothes for 'Likes' and 'Views' on channels that are often monetised.

A joint investigation carried out in Cambodia by Action for Primates and Lady Freethinker, the US-based non-human animal advocacy non-profit, has found that the reality for these monkeys – behind the glamour of colourful matching outfits, synchronised moves, and camera lens – lies a tragic story in which vulnerable infants, held captive under unnatural conditions, are controlled and manipulated to 'perform', often several times a day, while being filmed for human 'entertainment'. The groups have launched a campaign and sent a dossier of information to the Cambodian authorities urging them to take action to stop this cruelty. We are grateful to Stop Monkey Abuse Asia for providing information and support during our investigation.

Watch our video (warning: contains upsetting scenes): This is the Truth Behind those 'Cute' Baby Monkey Videos

It is illegal to keep monkeys, and most other wild animals, as 'pets' in Cambodia. But, the unlawful practice has proliferated, given a lack of law enforcement and the easy availability of wild monkeys, captured from the forests of Cambodia. The baby monkeys (long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques) are illegally poached from the wild, snatched from the protection of their mothers and troop members (who may be killed in the process when they vainly try to intervene) and have their freedom cruelly stolen from them.

Appalling conditions under which infants are kept; photo credit Lady Freethinker & Action for Primates
Appalling conditions for infants
credit Lady Freethinker & Action for Primates

Our investigation found that, unlike the well-lit and glamorous backgrounds portrayed in the social media clips, many of the captive monkeys were kept in small, barren cages. At one location, five young monkeys were being kept in a wire cage with a wire floor without any enrichment or access to food and water; the monkeys were displaying stress-based behaviours, including sucking their fingers – a coping mechanism when faced with stress, separation, or loss. At another location, macaques were kept in a barren wire cage in a filthy area of the residence, with the channel owner admitting that the monkeys were fed jelly and candy, not a healthy diet for these individuals.

At another location, home to one of Cambodia's most popular YouTubers, the person stated that the infant monkeys were found at a farm in Battambang after having been "abandoned".

While the videos on social media platforms may appear 'cute' to some, they are cruel, irresponsible, and dangerous. Despite any show of affection, whether sincere or fabricated, the people involved are responsible for causing substantial harm and inflicting suffering and distress on these baby monkey. Such videos also normalise the incarceration of wild baby monkeys as well as perpetuating the legal and illegal trade in wild monkeys as 'pets'.

Sarah Kite, AfP Co-founder, states: Forcibly removing and depriving infant monkeys of their mothers and raising them in captivity in unnatural conditions is extremely cruel and will result in abnormal behaviour and development and lead to severe psychological and physical problems.

These are abnormal conditions for the monkeys who are confused, bewildered, and frightened. They are highly distressed, screaming and crying out for their mothers. Many appear obtunded – no interest or engagement in their environment, slow responses to stimulation, drowsiness.

Infant macaque with hands and feet bandaged to prevent sucking
Infant macaque, bandaged hands and feet
Social media platforms

Our investigation also revealed videos posted previously from some of these channels, in which infants were "disciplined" – including hitting and biting the macaques or hanging them upside down. Other footage posted shows a helpless baby monkey deliberately left on her own to cry – their obvious distress is heart breaking – and callously filmed and a youngster whose arms were so tightly confined in clothing that he could not move normally.

There have been and continue to be thousands of videos uploaded onto social media platforms by many other people in Cambodia, showing numerous other acts of cruelty to baby monkeys. Such examples include seemingly endless bathing (which compromises the health of macaques' skin); forced bipedal walking, which long-term can lead to damage to joints and muscles; wrapping hands and feet to prevent finger-sucking – which also prevents the infants from grabbing things, a natural behaviour, as well as interferes with their balance; forcing them to take part in fabricated activities with each other; tormenting them by preventing access to food displayed in front of them; and continually prodding and poking them. In some of the videos, the camera focuses on the monkey's genitals, or the touching of their genitals is filmed.

What happens behind the scenes of these seemingly 'cute' infant monkey videos is much darker than viewers realize, said Nina Jackel, Founder and President of Lady Freethinker. 'We urge the public not to watch or share this content and are calling on the Cambodian government to take action.

Infant macaque threatened with being stabbed by knife
Infant macaque threatened with knife
Social media platforms

Equally disturbing is the cruelty, torment and harm baby monkeys are subjected to when they are deliberately placed into frightening and distressing situations from which they cannot escape. Their reactions, including obvious signs of terror, screaming and violent struggling, are then filmed for the online 'entertainment' of viewers. Examples that have been posted on social media include 1) Strapping a monkey to a tree and frightening him with live snakes who are thrown over the monkey. The monkey grabs the snakes and bites them, causing injury and suffering for the snakes. 2) Restraining monkey on a lead and allowing two dogs to torment, chew and bite the frightened animal. 3) Ensnaring monkeys by their necks and other body parts in objects such as plastic baskets. One monkey is seen hanging upside down, her 'clothing' deliberately caught in barbed wire. 4) Submerging and holding monkeys under water in a tub as if to drown them. 5) Using a knife and stick to threaten and frighten monkeys. 6) Frightening monkeys with a plastic crocodile or other objects which are tied to the monkey.

Please join Action for Primates and Lady Freethinker urging Cambodian officials to crack down on the illegal keeping of macaques in private homes, take action against the people who are subjecting monkeys to abuse and cruelty, and confiscate any illegally held captive monkeys so that they may be relocated to a reputable sanctuary where they may be rehabilitated for release to their natural homes or can at least live the rest of their lives in peace.
What you can do:

A report published by the Asia for Animals Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC) in 2021, illustrated the widespread and escalating issue of animal cruelty content available on social media platforms. Between July 2020 and August 2021, data on animal cruelty content (involving domestic and wild species) publicly available on YouTube, Facebook and TikTok were collected and compiled by SMACC. The 5,480 videos documented during that time had been viewed 5,347,809,262 times. When it was possible to identify the location where the videos were filmed and uploaded, Cambodia was listed sixth in a table of 33 countries.

19 April 2022: Air France flies 100 monkeys from Mauritius destined for UK laboratory

Long-tailed macaques imprisoned on a Mauritius monkey farm; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques, Mauritius monkey farm
credit Cruelty Free International

At 6AM on 14th April, Air France 473, an overnight passenger flight from Mauritius, landed at Charles de Galle Airport (CDG) in Paris, probably full of tourists returning from their holiday on the paradise island. What the human passengers did not know, while they enjoyed their in-flight comforts, was that 100 terrified and desperate monkeys (AWB 057-03172013) were just under their feet in the cargo hold. In stark contrast to the relative freedom and frivolity of the human passengers, these intelligent and highly sentient monkeys were imprisoned in crates, destined to an unimaginable fate of suffering and death inside a UK testing laboratory.

A concerned worker at CDG alerted Action for Primates and One Voice after learning of the plight of these long-tailed macaques shipped as cargo on the 11 hour journey. From Paris, the monkeys were subjected to more hours of confinement in the crates as they were transported to the UK. We suspect they were flown by the German carrier – BinAir, who we know transports beagles to laboratories – from France to the UK, arriving at Manchester Airport, a key destination for monkeys imported into the UK for the research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. The final destination for the monkeys was Labcorp (formerly known as Covance) in Harrogate, a global contract research company specialising in pharmaceutical, chemical testing and crop protection product testing.

Mauritius long-tailed macaques farm; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Mauritius monkey farm
credit Cruelty Free International

One Voice and Action for Primates have previously revealed the secretive and cruel world of the trade and transportation of monkeys to Europe for use in laboratories and the role of Air France in regularly transporting monkeys from Vietnam and Mauritius to Europe. Mauritius is the main supplier of monkeys to European and American laboratories, exporting over 14,000 beings in 2021. France is one of the countries at the heart of this cruel trade, with Silabe (Simian Laboratory Europe), a company based in Niederhausbergen, acting as a staging post known for importing hundreds of monkeys from Mauritius who are then sold on to laboratories across Europe.

Thanks to widespread global public concern, many of the world's leading airlines that once transported monkeys to laboratories – including American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, South African Airways, Air China, China Airlines, Delta Airlines, Eva Air and Air Canada – ended their involvement in this cruel business. Many other passenger airlines and cargo companies have also declared their intent to not become involved in this trade.

Please join Action for Primates and One Voice in our call to Air France and BinAir to join the many other airlines that refuse to play a role in this cruel trade. Contact the following:

The long-tailed macaque is the most widely used non-human primate species in laboratories. The majority of the individuals are used in tests to assess the toxicity of drugs and chemicals. In these 'poisoning' tests, the monkeys are dosed with a substance through injection or forced ingestion (or other routes) to see the adverse effects on the animals. Different species, however, react differently to a drug or chemical and toxicity testing cannot reliably predict the adverse effects that humans will experience.

11 April 2022: Speak out against the mass slaughter of thousands of macaques in Malaysia

Long-tailed macaques in Malaysia; photo credit Attila Jandi on Dreamstime
Long-tailed macaques in Malaysia
credit Attila Jandi on Dreamstime

Hundreds of thousands of macaques have been slaughtered in Malaysia over the years, and the killing continues. The persecution of these intelligent and sentient beings is highly disturbing and morally repugnant. Data provided by the authorities show that between 2015-2018, a shocking 240,469 individuals were killed. A recent news media report stated that in 2021, the Perak Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) killed over 14,000 macaques and 1,000 wild boars because of claims of "disruption" and labelling the macaques as "enemy of the crops". The government official who was quoted, however, confirmed that human activities such as feeding the animals, are issues "allowing them to enter the area comfortably". Despite this, the 'conflicts' caused by people encroaching on wildlife habitat are going to continue to be 'managed' by slaughtering macaques. The macaques, however, should not have to pay for human irresponsibility with their lives. We are a capable species and can find ways of resolving this issue without resorting to killing.

The long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) is a protected species under Appendix II on CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, Fauna & Flora). Further, there has been a new global assessment of the species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species, the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. The status of the long-tailed macaque has been increased to 'Vulnerable' with a decreasing population trend, and a lack of population data for the species, reflecting increasing concerns about the conservation status of the species.

Negative interactions between people and non-human primates arise primarily because of the ever-increasing expansion into and destruction of wildlife habitat. Human activities, such as deforestation, increase in land cultivation and infrastructure developments, force wild animals to seek new places to live or go in search of food. Although monkeys are typically fearful of humans, if people feed or in any way tolerate or encourage their presence, the animals lose their innate fear of people.

Long-tailed macaques in Malaysia; photo credit Attila Jandi on Dreamstime
Long-tailed macaques in Malaysia
credit Attila Jandi on Dreamstime

Nedim C Buyukmihci, V.M.D., University of California, stated: The killing of these monkeys is extremely cruel, and the numbers involved are staggering. This is particularly so because human beings are the ones at fault for creating a situation in which the macaques have overcome their innate fear of people in order seek life-sustaining food. There are numerous ways to resolve these issues peacefully so that there can be co-existence, not lethal 'management'.

There are humane (and effective) methods that can be used to prevent 'conflicts' from arising and to resolve them when they do happen. Just one example are public awareness programmes established to reduce intentional and unintentional feeding. The programme established by the Jane Goodall Institute in Singapore can be a model for other areas. Further, in Hong Kong and Singapore, fines are imposed on those people who continue to feed wild monkeys.

Given the impact human activities are having on the planet, increasingly removing native habitat for wildlife, we have a moral obligation to learn to live with the consequences of our actions. We need to find humane ways in which we can coexist with other species rather than just eliminating them when problems arise. There is an urgent need for a humane management plan to be put in place, part of which should include a strict prohibition of people interacting with and feeding the monkeys.

Please contact the Malaysian government and urge them to stop killing macaques:

20 March 2022: Please write to your MP about animal cruelty content and the UK Online Safety Bill

Abused infant long-tailed macaque on YouTube
Abused infant long-tailed macaque, YouTube

The UK Online Safety Bill establishes a new regulatory framework to increase accountability of online technology companies and protect users from harmful online content. Self-regulation by social media platforms is not working; there is a strong need for this important legislation, which could impact social media regulation worldwide. However, the Bill does not include explicit reference to the widespread shocking and distressing animal cruelty content that is available on social media platforms and which is not being prohibited by the social media companies.

The Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17th March 2022 (1). The next stage is a second reading, the opportunity for MPs (Members of Parliament) to debate the Bill. If you are a UK citizen, please write to your MP about this important issue. Contact details and a sample E-mail can be found below.

Action for Primates, as part of the Asia for Animals Coalition network, has argued that animal cruelty content should be brought explicitly within the scope of the Online Safety Bill and thereby within the scope of duties imposed on online technology platforms. Letters were sent to the Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP, Secretary of State and Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as Damian Collins MP and Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee (2). Action for Primates, together with Lady Freethinker, also submitted written evidence, prepared by Advocates for Animals, a UK law firm dedicated to animal protection, to the Parliamentary Joint Committee that was responsible for scrutinising the Bill (3).

Animal cruelty content disseminated online is a widespread and growing problem that involves unimaginable cruelty to animals. Its easy availability, and the failure of the tech platforms to self-regulate, also puts people at risk – particularly children and young adults, whose psychological development can be negatively affected by witnessing animal abuse (4). Animal cruelty content is produced in countries around the world. Regardless of where produced, its audience is global, and this is an issue that must be of vital concern worldwide – including in the UK. Online platforms should be legally obliged to implement and enforce strict guidelines prohibiting animal cruelty content, and thereby protecting the most vulnerable in society from harm.

SMACC monkey abuse on social media
SMACC monkey abuse on social media

One shocking example of this online abuse comprise 'monkey hatred' videos. These despicable videos are a widespread problem on social media platforms such as YouTube. The social media platforms are responsible for online content showing shocking mistreatment and abuse of monkeys, primarily babies. There are channels on YouTube that exist solely to promote and post videos of monkey suffering, with videos showing monkeys being injured, abused, tortured and killed.

Last year, the Asia for Animals (AfA) Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC), released a major report – Making Money from Misery: How Social Media Giants Profit from Animal Abuse – that reveals the nature and volume of animal cruelty content available on three major social media platforms, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok (5). Several dozen of the 5,480 cruelty content videos they documented were filmed in the UK, and several hundred were uploaded from the UK (second only to Indonesia and the USA).

Contact the following people as well as your MP:

Sample message to edit and send to your own MP:

Dear [name] MP,

I am writing to you regarding the Online Safety Bill which received its first reading in the House of Commons on 17th March 2022. I welcome the Government's objective to increase the accountability of online technology companies and protect users from harmful online content. I am concerned, however, that the Bill does not include explicit reference to the widespread and growing problem of animal cruelty content on social media platforms and which is not being prohibited by the social media companies. It is an issue of worldwide concern, including within the UK.

The posting of this highly disturbing footage, involving deliberate and gratuitous violence and torture inflicted on animals for 'entertainment', is a serious animal welfare issue, and its easy availability puts people – particularly children – at risk. Any person, but particularly children and other vulnerable groups, can be adversely affected by exposure to animal abuse.

For further information about animal cruelty content on social media platforms, I refer you to the recent report published by the Asia for Animals Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition, a coalition representing international animal welfare and conservation organisations from across Asia and around the world, including the UK: https://www.asiaforanimals.com/smacc-report

As with other harmful Internet content, self-regulation by social media platforms such as YouTube, is not working with animal cruelty videos; hence the need for legislation. I strongly believe, therefore, that such content should be brought explicitly within the scope of the Online Safety Bill.

I urge you to raise my concerns during the second reading of this important bill in Parliament and for provision to be made in the Online Safety Bill to address animal cruelty content.

Yours,

References:

  1. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-02/0285/210285.pdf
  2. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S6UEBFLP36397hUKzr_tf6N6xt-7IMRb/view?fbclid=IwAR2g24g8n7ssOa23v7uNrYI0aLFTh2io-w2qwLCQJp4SnIbPYl1Dne1gO_U
  3. https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/39304/pdf/
  4. McDonald, S.E.; Dmitrieva, J.; Shin, S.; Hitti, S.A.; Graham-Bermann, S.A.; Ascione, F.R. and Williams, J.H. 2017-10-01 "The role of callous/unemotional traits in mediating the association between animal abuse exposure and behavior problems among children exposed to intimate partner violence" Child Abuse & Neglect 72:421-432
  5. SMACC 2021 "Making Money from Misery: How Social Media Giants Profit from Animal Abuse" Asia for Animals Coalition

17 March 2022: Help monkeys who are being trapped in Mauritius now

Trapped long-tailed macaques in Mauritius; photo credit Mr Seenath Abedeen
Trapped long-tailed macaques, Mauritius
credit Mr Seenath Abedeen

Action for Primates and One Voice have been alerted by concerned residents to the trapping of monkeys taking place now in Chalet Street, Vallée Pitot, located in the region of Port Louis in Mauritius. Video footage shows a large gang cage into which unsuspecting monkeys are lured by food and then trapped. The distressed monkeys, who can be heard crying out, are removed from the trap in small transit crates and loaded into the back of a truck and driven away, we suspect to one of the many primate companies in Mauritius that exports monkeys to be used in research and toxicity (poisoning) testing. Click here to see a short video.

The trapping of wild monkeys is a practice that is universally condemned because of the cruelty and suffering caused by the trapping and removal of individuals from their natural habitat and family and social groups. It is likely these monkeys trapped in Mauritius will be exported overseas to laboratories or will be used for breeding and their offspring exported. Mauritius is the main supplier of monkeys to the USA and Europe for laboratory use, exporting over 14,000 long-tailed individuals in 2021.

Trapped long-tailed macaques in Mauritius; photo credit Mr Seenath Abedeen
Trapped long-tailed macaques, Mauritius
credit Mr Seenath Abedeen

The trapping is taking place on public land and one Port Louis resident, Mr Seenath Abedeen, who took video footage, has also reported his concerns to the local police. The monkeys' habitat is being encroached upon more and more by people, and yet it is the monkeys who are paying the price for this disruption, almost always with their lives.

Please speak out for these monkeys in Mauritius. Send E-mail calling for an end to their trapping and for protection to be given them everywhere on the island:

Non-human primates are our closest living biological relatives, and the monkeys of Mauritius deserve protection and to be treated humanely, not killed or captured for laboratory use and other purposes. Action for Primates and One Voice appeal to all the communities of Mauritius to reflect on the terrible suffering that is being inflicted upon these intelligent, social and sentient animals, and to speak out to help end their cruel exploitation.

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

Long-tailed macaques are the most common primate species used in toxicity testing, which is the deliberate poisoning of individuals to see how much of a chemical or drug it takes to cause them serious harm or death. They are forcibly restrained, like the monkeys in the photographs, and a test substance given by injection, infusion or a stomach tube – in increasing amounts to measure the poisoning effects. The suffering caused to the macaques is immense.

If you live in Mauritius and become aware of wild monkeys being trapped, eaten or kept as 'pets', please send us the details: info@actionforprimates.org

11 March 2022: Continued persecution of the monkeys in Mauritius

Long-tailed macaque in trap on Mauritius
Long-tailed macaque in trap, Mauritius

Action for Primates and One Voice have been alerted to the trapping of wild long-tailed macaques taking place in Mauritius. This distressed individual (click here for video) was discovered caught in a trap deep in the forest near Tamarind Falls. A concerned member of the public came across him when out walking. Fortunately for this individual, he was released, free to return to his family and social group.

Tragically, other monkeys are not so lucky. In Mauritius, wild monkeys are not protected. They are trapped for many reasons, including to be eaten, kept as 'pets', exported to laboratories directly or used for breeding and their offspring exported, or simply killed because they are considered to be a 'nuisance'. Many people are unaware that, in Mauritius, monkeys may be captured to be sold as 'pets' or to be killed and eaten. Bushmeat – such as the flesh from captured and slaughtered long-tailed macaques – can be found on sale in Mauritius.

In 2021, Biosphere Trading, one of the companies exporting monkeys, was granted permission by the government to expand its facility and to capture up to 1,000 monkeys to be used for breeding. According to a news report at the time, Biosphere intended to provide landowners and their tenants with traps to capture monkeys and would then offer to buy selected individuals. Biosphere did not indicate what was to be done with unwanted individuals. Such an approach to the trapping of wild monkeys is alarming and inhumane. Biosphere Trading was effectively placing a bounty on the monkeys' heads. Those monkeys would be torn from their families and natural habitat, to be exported to laboratories themselves or imprisoned for years in concrete pens for breeding purposes; their infants continually taken away to later be exported to laboratories.

Long-tailed macaque trap on Mauritius; photo credit Kristina Le Dantec G.
Trap, Mauritius
Kristina Le Dantec G.

We know that the majority of long-tailed macaques are used in tests 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 the materials. In 2021, there was a sharp increase to 14,640 in the number of long-tailed macaques exported from Mauritius for research and toxicity testing; this figure represented an increase of over 35% of those sent overseas in 2020 (10,827).

Treating sentient and intelligent beings this way is appalling. The trapping of wild monkeys is a practice that is universally condemned because of the cruelty and suffering caused by the trapping and removal of individuals from their natural habitat and family and social groups.

Please join Action for Primates and One Voice and speak up for the monkeys of Mauritius. We need to end the cruel and appalling treatment of wild long-tailed macaques. E-mail the following to end the trapping of wild monkeys and introduce legislation to protect them (clicking on E-mail addresses will create a sample message you can edit):

8 March 2022: Monkeys used in disturbing cocaine and heroin research in USA

Rhesus macaque in a 'primate chair' in a laboratory; photo credit Cruelty Free International, SOKO Tierschutz
'Chaired' rhesus macaque in a laboratory
photo credit CFI, SOKO Tierschutz

Rhesus macaques were forced to consume cocaine and heroin in an attempt to study the effects of a potential drug treatment for substance abuse in people (1). The work was done at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and the monkeys were maintained in accordance with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and the 2011 Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. It was funded publicly through grant R21 DA046805 ($419,375 US) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and privately through grant AQ-0039 from the Welch Foundation.

One female and three male adult rhesus macaques were used. They had been used in previous research during which they were forced to 'self-administer' opioids and other drugs. Each was housed singly in a cage without others of their own kind. Surgery was done to implant catheters into their femoral or jugular veins. Each catheter was tunnelled under the skin to between the shoulders and an access port was attached (to inject the heroin and cocaine intravenously directly into the animals' bloodstream).

During the testing, the macaques were forced to sit in restraint devices, euphemistically referred to as primate chairs, inside an enclosed chamber in which there was a testing apparatus. Food pellets were used as rewards. The abuse drugs were available through the catheters and the macaques could choose to respond for i.v. infusions or food pellets". The two test treatment drugs, buprenorphine (an opioid) and lorcaserin (marketed as Belviq®, a drug used to treat obesity and which was withdrawn from the US market in 2020 because a safety clinical trial shows an increased occurrence of cancer), were given subcutaneously before the sessions to see the effect on whether the macaques chose cocaine, heroin or food. The drug treatment lasted 176 days.

Heroin and cocaine are both highly addictive and dangerous and can seriously affect the health and well-being of users. Despite this, there was no description of the effects of any of the drugs on the macaques with respect to their behaviour, appearance, welfare and well-being. Nor was there any mention of the ultimate fate of the macaques.

Imprisoning sentient, intelligent and highly social beings in cages, on their own for years, and deliberately manipulating their psychological and physical health and well-being through forcing them to ingest highly addictive and dangerous drugs, might seem subjects for horror films. The reality, however, is that this appalling treatment is inflicted upon hundreds of non-human primates every year, imprisoned in government and academic facilities and universities across the US, and almost always funded publicly by the tax-payer. Substance abuse is a purely human issue and cannot be addressed using non-human primates or any other non-human animal. This inhumane attempt at trying to find a 'silver bullet' treatment is morally unconscionable as well as ineffective. 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. The millions of tax dollars spent every year on trying to turn monkeys into surrogates for human drug addicts could be better used to directly help the millions of people who suffer from substance abuse.

Please voice your objections to this extreme cruelty towards non-human primates by sending E-mail to:

Reference:

  1. Gerak, Lisa R. and France, Charles P. 2021-10-01 "Effects of buprenorphine/lorcaserin mixtures on preference for heroin, cocaine, or saline over food using a concurrent choice procedure in rhesus monkeys" Drug and Alcohol Dependence 227:108991

27 February 2022: Alarming increase in monkeys exported from Mauritius to laboratories in 2021

Long-tailed macaques with infants imprisoned in monkey farm, Mauritius; credit Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques, infants, imprisoned in Mauritius monkey farm
credit Cruelty Free International

There has been a sharp increase in the number of long-tailed macaques exported from Mauritius. In 2021, a reported 14,640 individuals were sent overseas to be used in research and toxicity (poisoning) testing. This figure represents an increase of over 35% of those sent to their deaths in 2020 (10,827).

The hostility and persecution of the macaques in Mauritius is highly disturbing. The species deserves protection and to be treated humanely, not killed or captured for research and toxicity testing purposes. Torn from their native habitat and families, long-tailed macaques are shipped as cargo on airlines to laboratories, or imprisoned in breeding pens, and their offspring exported. Countries that imported monkeys from Mauritius during 2021 include the US, Canada, Spain, France, the UK and Holland.

Supply companies – Camarney SL in Spain and Silabe (Simian Laboratory Europe) in France – are known to regularly import many of these monkeys for breeding or for onward sale to laboratories within Europe.

Mauritius is famous for its beaches, tropical climate, heritage sites and wildlife and is a popular destination for holidaymakers. The country's promotion as a "paradise island", however, is tarnished by a dark side of which most holidaymakers are totally unaware: the country's cruel persecution of the wild monkeys who share the island with the human residents.

Please join Action for Primates, One Voice and Stop Camarles in our call for an end to this brutal trade. If you have been considering Mauritius as your next holiday destination, please remember the monkeys who live there; they do not have a say or choice in what happens to them. Animal welfare concerns expressed by tourists make a difference with travel and holiday operators. Let them know your objections to the suffering and cruelty inflicted on the monkeys. Please also let the Mauritius government know that its international reputation as a holiday destination is tarnished by its cruel trade in monkeys for research.

Send E-mail to the government of Mauritius:

23 February 2022: Baboons forced to consume alcohol for many years to model heavy alcohol abuse in people

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

This research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland, USA, involved using baboons as models in an attempt to simulate chronic heavy and binge drinking in people, defined as drinking too much, too fast, and too often (1). 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 (NCI, NIAAA, NIDA). The stated aim of the research was to look at the changes in the faecal microbiome and metabolome that occur after long-term excessive drinking and forced abstinence.

Sixteen adult male olive baboons were used in this research. Of the 16 individuals, nine had been turned into 'alcoholics' – coerced to drink alcohol for two hours, every day, seven days a week, for many years, euphemistically described as self-administration. Four were referred to as the Long-term alcohol drinking group and had been self-administering alcohol daily for a median of 12.1 years. Five were referred to as the Short-term alcohol drinking group and had been self-administering alcohol daily for a median of 2.7 years. Five, the Control group, had been self-administering Tang, an orange-flavored, non-alcoholic beverage, daily for a median of 8.2 years. Two others who had no history of alcohol consumption were only used for blood sampling and were considered drug-free. As far as could be determined from the published paper, all the baboons had been imprisoned singly in steel cages during this period.

The baboons had to be anaesthetised several times for blood to be taken and faecal samples were obtained from their cages. The baboons were subjected to forced abstinence (by having the alcohol suddenly withdrawn) to see the effects of no alcohol consumption on the gut situation. In order to do this, the baboons were subjected to three consecutive days of drinking, followed by three consecutive days when alcohol was not made available. It was not clear from the report whether this cycle was repetitive.

There was no information provided on the effects of alcohol on the baboons' behaviour and appearance, but there was no question that stopping the alcohol resulted in welfare compromise. This was indirectly referred to by the researchers, who stated that by limiting alcohol access to two hours per day, baboons typically only show mild symptoms [sic] of alcohol withdrawal (e.g., irritability, inactivity, and reduced food intake). The ultimate fate of the baboons was not stated, but we suspect that they will be forced to continue consuming alcohol regularly in order to be used in other research on the effects of alcohol in baboons.

This project is just one more in a highly disturbing, continuing series of publicly-funded projects in which non-human primates are forced to consume alcohol by coercion. Aside from the cruelty, this was a highly mechanistic approach, treating the animals as little more than inanimate test tubes. As is typical with such research, the authors advocated future research in this area using baboons, in order to refine the baboon model and determine if this line of research can contribute to the understanding and treatment of alcohol use disorder in people.

Not only was this research abjectly inhumane, it does not have relevance to people. Human gut microbiome will not be the same as in baboons nor will that in captive baboons be the same as in those living freely in a natural habitat. There apparently is one study, cited by the authors, that suggests that captivity humanizes the NHP microbiota, but that study was on many species of non-human primates, none of them baboons. Further, as pointed out by the authors, Changes in the fecal microbiome have been reported...in alcohol-dependent people. It is clear, therefore, that this research has already been done in people – and can continue being done in people, ethically and with their informed consent, something not possible with baboons. Information gleaned from such studies is the only way to definitively help people; so-called animal models simply do not work, as has been pointed out by a previous director of the NIH (2). The millions of tax-payer funds wasted on this kind of research would be of substantial use in helping people with substance abuse issues directly.

Please speak up for these baboons, by voicing your strong objections to this inhumane and fiscally irresponsible research by contacting the people involved:

Reference:

  1. Piacentino, Daria; Grant-Beurmann, Silvia; Vizioli, Carlotta; Li, Xiaobai; Moore, Catherine F.; Ruiz-Rodado, Victor; Lee, Mary R.; Joseph, Paule V.; Fraser, Claire M.; Weerts, Elise M. and Leggio, Lorenzo 2021-12-01 "Gut microbiome and metabolome in a non-human primate model of chronic excessive alcohol drinking" Translational Psychiatry 11(1):609
  2. McManus, Rich 2013-06-21 "Ex-Director Zerhouni surveys value of NIH research" N.I.H. Record 65(13):
  3. [Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH Director 2002-2008]: "We have moved away from studying human disease in humans," he lamented. "We all drank the Kool-Aid on that one, me included." With the ability to knock in or knock out any gene in a mouse–which "can't sue us," Zerhouni quipped–researchers have over-relied on animal data. "The problem is that it hasn't worked, and it's time we stopped dancing around the problem...We need to refocus and adapt new methodologies for use in humans to understand disease biology in humans."

Grant support funding the research (click on link to see information on each grant):

4 February 2022: Monkeys fed cannabis to study effects on reproductive health in men

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

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, Oregon Health & Science University (1). The research, publicised last month, was approved by its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and supported almost entirely with public funds (NIH and its branches).

Despite being done in monkeys, the stated aim of research was to determine whether chronic marijuana use adversely impacts human male reproductive health. The monkeys were fed daily with THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) – the main active ingredient of marijuana – for seven months. During the last two and a half months, they were given the daily equivalent to that seen in people who are heavy users of marijuana. The monkeys were subjected to repeated blood collection, repeated restraint for ultrasound and electro-ejaculation to collect semen.

According to the researchers, the animals' behaviour was not noted to be grossly different from before the drug was administered. This does not mean, however, that the macaques were not experiencing the psychoactive effects commonly felt in people such as hallucinations, confusion or paranoia. Being in a completely alien environment (captivity and in cages), would have compounded whatever effects there were of the drug. There was no mention of what happened to the monkeys after the seven months. Nor was it stated whether the marijuana was suddenly withdrawn and whether this resulted in any adverse effects.

The authors concluded: These data suggest that increasing the amount of chronic THC consumption, even at moderate doses, has an adverse impact on male reproductive health... As is always the case in animal model work, the authors stated: Further studies are needed to determine if reversal of these observed adverse effects would occur if THC was discontinued and for validation... in human beings. And thus, the endless cycle of using and abusing sentient, unwilling and non-consenting beings will continue.

The authors cited numerous studies in human beings that have provided information on THC and male reproduction, and the various limitations of such studies. Instead of using the available funding and resources to overcome these limitations – something that can be done through well-designed epidemiological studies which would provide data relevant to people – the authors instead promoted continuing to use the rhesus macaques as surrogates. The authors' findings in the macaques, however, is only valid in the six macaques used and may not even translate to other cohorts of rhesus macaques, other species of macaques, other non-human primates or human primates.

The authors claimed that no one, including veterinary and animal support staff, could see any behavioural changes in the macaques despite doses of THC equivalent to that taken by people who are heavy users. The hallmarks of heavy marijuana use in people include directly observable changes in behaviour as a result of the effects of this drug. Assuming that it was true that no such behavioural changes occurred in the macaques, this is evidence that the two species react differently to THC and calls into serious question the reliability of using macaques in such studies. More importantly, there is no question that further studies can be done using human volunteers – individuals who can provide informed consent – resulting in data that are applicable in people. This was an appalling abuse of macaques and a shameful example of fiscal irresponsibility. US citizens should be alarmed that their taxes are being used for such cruel experiments.

Incongruously, the Oregon National Primate Research Center pronounces that they ...assure the dual necessity for the highest quality ethical care for animals and the most outstanding scientific research. They further pronounce that researchers must ...provide a justification for why the proposed research must be conducted with monkeys rather than some other animal; whether there are any alternative ways that the scientist can find to answer his or her question...

Please speak out for these monkeys and against this kind of immoral and wasteful research:

Reference:

  1. Hedges, Jason C.; Hanna, Carol B.; Bash, Jasper C.; Boniface, Emily R.; Burch, Fernanda C.; Mahalingaiah, Shruthi; Roberts, Victoria H.J.; Terrobias, Juanito Jose D.; Mishler, Emily C.; Jensen, Jared V.; Easley, Charles A. and Lo, Jamie O. 2022-04-01 "Chronic exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol impacts testicular volume and male reproductive health in rhesus macaques" Fertility and Sterility 117(4):698-707

Grant support funding the research (click on link to see information):

29 January 2022: Kenya Airways commits to ending the transport of monkeys to labs

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

Kenya Airways has announced its commitment to ending the transportation of monkeys destined for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing, when its contract expires in February this year. This change in policy follows the recent horrific truck crash on a US highway, involving 100 long-tailed macaques imported from Mauritius and flown to JFK by Kenya Airways. Photographs of the trailer crash in Pennsylvania show transit crates, some damaged and scattered on the road.

Action for Primates first revealed the role of Kenya Airways in transporting monkeys to laboratories in December 2021, having been alerted by a concerned individual in Nairobi that 720 long-tailed macaques, originating in Cambodia, were flown by the airline from Nairobi to JFK. Thank you to everyone who wrote to Kenya Airways urging them to end their involvement in this cruel trade. The Kenyan airline now joins the ever-growing list of airlines – including American Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, South African Airways, Air China, China Airlines, Delta Airlines, Eva Air and Air Canada – who have ended their involvement in this cruel business.

Action for Primates is continuing its call on Wamos Air, the Spanish holiday charter airline whose parent company is Royal Caribbean Cruises, to follow the compassionate lead set by Kenya Airways and end its involvement in the cruel global trade in non-human primates for research. The fact that Wamos Air persists in transporting monkeys, despite several individuals found dead on board one its aircraft on arrival in the US in November 2021, is incomprehensible.

Thousands of long-tailed macaques have been transported as cargo by Wamos Air to Houston, TX, destined for Envigo in Texas, a global contract testing corporation. In January 2022, 720 monkeys were imprisoned on their own in small transit crates for around 40 hours, subjected to over 30 hours flying time, a further six hours on the ground during stop-overs at Tbilisi and Madrid, and the hours spent being unloaded and transferred to and from airports, with a 250 mile journey by road awaiting them at Houston.

Please join Action for Primates, One Voice and Stop Camarles in our renewed call to Wamos Air to stop transporting monkeys destined for research and testing.

Send E-mail to:

25 January 2022: Urge Indonesia to stop cruel capture and export of monkeys for experiments

Captured mother and child; photo credit Action for Primates
Captured mother and child
photo credit Action for Primates

Harrowing footage released by Action for Primates has revealed the cruelty and suffering inflicted on wild monkeys in Indonesia, captured to be exported overseas for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing, or breeding by companies that export monkeys to laboratories in China and the USA.

In 2021, the government of Indonesia allowed the capture and export of wild long-tailed macaques to resume. This was despite widespread global concerns about the inherent inhumanity of trapping wild monkeys (1) and increasing awareness of the vulnerability of the conservation status of this species (2). Hundreds of wild monkeys have subsequently been captured, torn from their natural habitat, family and social groups.

Captured monkeys in crate; photo credit Action for Primates
Captured monkeys in crate
photo credit Action for Primates

The monkeys were trapped inside large nets and forcibly removed by hand, often dragged out by their tails, which are not prehensile, putting them at risk of severe spinal cord injury. Others were pinned to the ground by a trapper's foot, their front limbs pulled behind their backs in a way that may have resulted in dislocations and fractures, grabbed by their necks and removed. They were either stuffed headfirst into sacks or crammed into wooden crates with others. A short video of the trapping of monkeys can be seen here: https://actionforprimates.org/public/references/Public_Indonesia_monkey_film.mp4

A callous and indifferent attitude was displayed towards the monkeys. On capture, infants were separated from their mothers, causing distress in both. Trappers laughed and joked while handling monkeys. The most brutal incident involved the killing of one captured male. Beaten down with a pole, the dazed and injured animal was dragged by his tail, held down and his throat cut with a machete. Such brutal and inhumane treatment is a clear breach of international animal welfare guidelines (3).

Captured youngster; photo credit Action for Primates
Captured youngster
photo credit Action for Primates

Nedim C Buyukmihci, V.M.D., University of California, stated: Capturing non-human primates from the wild is unquestionably associated with substantial suffering. The handling and treatment of the monkeys as seen in the video footage is brutal and inhumane, and a clear breach of international animal welfare guidelines. Such cruelty – the beating and killing of alpha males, removing infants from their mothers, dragging monkeys by their non-prehensile tails and pulling front limbs so forcibly behind their backs that dislocation and fractures could occur – must not be tolerated. Nor must the trapping of wild monkeys. I urge other animal welfare practitioners to strongly object to the Indonesian authorities and international bodies.

Monkeys exported from Indonesia are mainly destined for laboratories in the USA and China. Export data submitted by Indonesia show that in 2020, Indonesia exported 2,793 long-tailed macaques to China and 120 to the USA. Export figures for 2021 are expected to be much greater and to include wild-caught monkeys. Long-tailed macaques are the primary non-human primate species used in regulatory toxicity tests, which is the area in which most non-human primates are used. Toxicity (or poisoning) testing is carried out to assess adverse reactions to drugs (or chemicals) and usually involves substantial suffering and death.

The reason usually given by the authorities for the monkey capture is that the animals are coming into conflict with residents and farmers in local communities. An ever-increasing expansion and encroachment into wildlife habitat is tragically leading to potentially avoidable negative interactions between macaques and people. Rather than allowing macaques to be trapped and exported for research or killed, Action for Primates urges the authorities to address the issues that are causing these conflicts, such as deforestation and disposal of food waste that results in monkeys being attracted to human settlements. It is known that trapping monkeys does not resolve the alleged 'conflicts', primarily because this results in an increase in reproduction.

Sarah Kite, Action for Primates co-founder, stated: This distressing footage is shocking proof of the brutality and inhumanity to which these sentient animals are subjected in the name of research. The resumption of the capture and export of long-tailed macaques by Indonesia is an alarming development, especially at a time when there is widespread global concern over and condemnation of the capture of wild non-human primates. Action for Primates urges the government of Indonesia to stop this cruelty and protect the long-tailed macaque population.

In addition to our call to the Indonesian government, Action for Primates has joined with Lady Freethinker in the US to urge the US government to take a stand against this cruelty by placing a ban on all monkeys imported from Indonesia.

Nina Jackel, founder and president, Lady Freethinker, stated: The grisly and highly disturbing footage of cruelty towards macaques should be cause for alarm in both Indonesia as well as the United States, which imports monkeys from Indonesia for brutal experimentation. I strongly urge the U.S. government to take a stand against this cruelty by placing a ban on all monkeys imported from Indonesia.

Please join Action for Primates in our call on the Indonesian government to stop the capture and export of wild monkeys for experiments and to enact legislation that offers protection to the indigenous long-tailed macaque population:

References:

  1. For example, from November 2022, the European Union will ban the import of wild-caught monkeys for research purposes following its acknowledgement of the animal welfare, animal health and ethical problems that arise from the capture of non-human primates in the wild. (Article 10) Directive: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2010/63/oj
  2. A recent global assessment of the long-tailed macaque carried out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species, the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species, has increased its status to 'Vulnerable' with a decreasing population trend, reflecting increasing concerns about the conservation status of the species; Eudey, A., Kumar, A., Singh, M. & Boonratana, R. 2021. Macaca fascicularis (amended version of 2020 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T12551A204494260
  3. International Primatology Society (IPS) (International Guidelines for the Acquisition, Care and Breeding of Non-Human Primates: Methods of Capture:
    The capture of primates from the wild is challenging and potentially dangerous for the animals. Inexperienced handling can lead to significant morbidity and mortality for the animals. Methods used to capture and handle primates, which vary widely between species and countries, should always be humane and cause minimal stress. Institutions should ensure that anyone trapping primates is adequately trained and competent in humane methods of capture.
    Capture methods should not render animals, or their troop members, unduly susceptible to injury or death.

7 January 2022: Baboons subjected to intense suffering and death using US public funds

Olive baboons grooming in Tanzania; photo credit Magdalena Kula Manchee on Unsplash
Olive baboons grooming, Tanzania
credit Magdalena Kula Manchee, Unsplash

Eight baboons were lethally infected with staphylococcus bacteria and allowed to suffer substantially in this experiment which was done at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas, USA (1). The work was approved by the facility's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and funded entirely by US taxpayer funds through grants from various branches of the National Institutes of Health. The total amount of the awards to the authors are in the many millions of US dollars (click here for list). This is not to mean that all the awarded funds were used just for this experiment, but it provides the scale of funding in general.

Of the eight baboons used, one female and three males comprised the control, untreated group and two females and two males comprised the treated group and received the test compound. Both groups were given a lethal dose of the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, over a two hour intravenous infusion and returned to their cages eight hours later.

All the control animals had to be killed within 10-34 hours after the infusion because of the level of suffering they were enduring; they developed irreversible organ failure. Although the treated baboons survived, they were killed seven days after the bacterial infusion.

The authors did not directly acknowledge the suffering endured by the baboons who comprised the control group. They implied that these individuals developed fever, terminal hypotension, respiratory distress and multi-organ failure. Instead of describing what effects these had on the behaviour, welfare and well-being of the baboons, there was a dry recitation of the metabolic changes observed. Given that the baboons developed respiratory distress and irreversible organ failure means they were doing very poorly. There is no question that they suffered greatly before being killed.

Several of the authors and two of the institutions – Aronora (a biotechnology company) and Oregon Health & Science University – disclosed that they may have a financial interest in the results of this study.

This was pure basic science research aimed at getting to the mechanism of how the immune system works in suppressing the effect on the body of bacterial-induced sepsis. As such, it appeared not to have any clinical relevance. Moreover, the authors referred to human studies which provided similar data, making the baboon study superfluous.

Action for Primates is appalled that these baboons not only had to endure being in captivity, but also were treated as little more than living 'Petri dishes', and suffered greatly as a result. Our species must stop viewing other primates as surrogates for human beings. Even Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., a past Director of the NIH, agrees with this view (2). Ethical, compassionate and humane research can be done in people, who not only can provide informed consent, but also can benefit from the work.

Please speak out in the memory of these baboons by voicing your objections to the people and entities involved in this inhumane research on the baboons:

References:

  1. Silasi, Robert; Keshari, Ravi S.; Regmi, Girija; Lupu, Cristina; Georgescu, Constantin; Simmons, Joe H.; Wallisch, Michael; Kohs, Tia C.L.; Shatzel, Joseph J.; Olson, Sven R.; Lorentz, Christina U.; Puy, Cristina; Tucker, Erik I.; Gailani, David; Strickland, Sidney; Gruber, András; McCarty, Owen J.T. and Lupu, Florea 2021-07-15 "Factor XII plays a pathogenic role in organ failure and death in baboons challenged with Staphylococcus aureus" Blood 138(2):178-189
  2. McManus, Rich 2013-06-21 "Ex-Director Zerhouni surveys value of NIH research" N.I.H. Record 65(13):
  3. [Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH Director 2002-2008]: "We have moved away from studying human disease in humans," he lamented. "We all drank the Kool-Aid on that one, me included." With the ability to knock in or knock out any gene in a mouse—which "can't sue us," Zerhouni quipped—researchers have over-relied on animal data. "The problem is that it hasn't worked, and it's time we stopped dancing around the problem...We need to refocus and adapt new methodologies for use in humans to understand disease biology in humans."

Grant support funding the research (click on each link to see information):

You can find out more information on all grants made by the National Institutes of Health, the largest funding entity in the US, and all their agencies by using the NIH RePORTER. You can search by grant number, investigator, recipient institution and more (see instructions).