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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:

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:


  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).