Action for Primates

Long-tailed macaques, photo by Sarah Kite
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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 Take Action entries below, you can click here for petitions you can sign and share to help non-human primates around the world.


22 November 2022: Wild animals as 'pets': a vicious cycle of suffering caused by social media trends

Infant northern pig-tailed macaque kept as 'pet', alongside doll and stuffed bear toy; photo credit Lady Freethinker and Action for Primates
Infant northern pig-tailed macaque 'pet'
credit Lady Freethinker and Action for Primates

Wild animals, including monkeys, tigers, otters and lizards, are being psychologically and physically tortured for likes and comments on social media.

The Asia for Animals Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC), comprised of 13 animal protection organisations, including Action for Primates, has produced a report – Wild animal "pets" on social media: A vicious cycle of suffering – that shines a light on the disturbing trend in keeping wild animals as 'pets' being fuelled by social media. This report is the second in a series of theme-specific exposés of the horrific world of online animal cruelty content.

Research carried out by SMACC, between September 2021 and October 2022, identified 860 videos posted on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, depicting a wide range of wild animal species, including highly endangered species such as tigers and orangutans. Non-human primates, mostly macaques and often infants, featured in more than 76% of the videos.

Such videos, posted on the social media platforms, present wild animals in totally inappropriate and unnatural situations, such as lion cubs wearing nappies, bushbabies dressed in human baby clothes, monkeys fed bottles of milk, tigers walking on leads. SMACC argues that these videos normalise the keeping of wild animals as 'pets', leading to an increase in their demand, which, in turn, has a detrimental impact on animal welfare as well as fuelling legal and illegal trade.

Infant northern pig-tailed macaque kept as 'pet', in human clothes
Infant northern pig-tailed macaque 'pet'

Viral trends, often exacerbated by celebrities or influencers, have also led to widespread mis-education about the suitability of wild animals as 'pets'. For example, viral videos showed slow lorises being tickled and raising their arms in response. Experts have pointed out that this may appear playful, but is in fact a defensive behaviour indicating that the individual is fearful. This content, misinterpreted as harmless, can create more demand for capture and sale of these individuals for the 'pet' trade.

Nedim C Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Emeritus Professor, University of California and adviser to Action for Primates, stated: Social media platforms are normalising the immoral incarceration and cruel treatment of baby monkeys by allowing videos of these individuals on their platforms. Wild infant monkeys are taken from and deprived of their mothers and kept in captivity under conditions that are unnatural and sometimes abjectly poor. The monkeys are subjected to direct and indirect harm, suffering and distress. They are forced to 'perform' multiple times a day and filmed for 'Likes' and 'Views' on social media. Particularly disturbingly, baby monkeys are also deliberately placed into frightening and distressing situations from which they cannot escape. Their fear and terror are filmed for the online 'entertainment' of viewers. People must bear in mind that just being in captivity constitutes a major harm to these vulnerable individuals. It also perpetuates the trade in monkeys as 'pets', whether wild or captive born and whether 'legal' or illegal.

Nicola O'Brien, SMACC Lead Coordinator, stated: Most people watching on social media do not see the vast amount of cruelty that has been perpetrated against animals for that 30 second video. What may look like a loving 'owner' feeding their 'pet' tiger with milk, what they are seeing is actually an endangered species who has and will suffer immensely. As well as the unsuitability of a human home for any wild animal causing physical and psychological damage, obtaining these animals supports a dangerous and often illegal worldwide trade, threatening animal welfare and endangered species protection. This is the vicious cycle of suffering behind these videos.

SMACC has reached out to a number of social media platforms, urging them to remove such content and offering to assist them in improving their policies. So far, Meta and TikTok have been in discussion with SMACC, but no other platforms have responded. SMACC reports progress is very slow, with social media platforms avoiding their responsibilities.

What you can do and what you should not do to help monkeys and others being displayed on social media:

13 November 2022: Your help needed to ban importation of 'trophies' into UK

Male chacma baboon, Kruger National Park, South Africa; photo credit Ecophoto, Dreamstime
Male chacma baboon, South Africa
credit Ecophoto, Dreamstime

Wild animals, including lions, rhinos, giraffes and monkeys, are being hunted and slaughtered by people from the UK for 'sport' and 'entertainment'; their bodies dismembered and imported into the country as 'trophies'. Such 'trophies' can include heads, skulls, skin and whole bodies. Although the UK cannot stop people from killing these animals in other countries, it must at least prevent the importation of these so-called trophies. A Private Members' Bill that would ban this importation, introduced by Henry Smith MP, is due to have its Second reading and be debated in the UK House of Commons on 25th November 2022 (see below for what to do).

According to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), in 2019 and 2020, body parts, including skulls, from wild baboons (chacma, olive and yellow) and vervet monkeys were imported into the UK from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia.

It is sickening that these wonderful, sentient beings living freely on the plains and savannas of Africa, have their lives cruelly taken from them so that they can end up as a 'trophy' on someone's wall. Those left behind – family members and friends – must suffer intensely at this loss. A civilised society must not permit the killing of animals for 'sport'. More information on this issue can be obtained from Ban Trophy Hunting: https://bantrophyhunting.org/actions/

If you are a UK citizen, please contact your MP asking them to attend Parliament on 25th November 2022 and vote for MP Henry Smith's "Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill". You can obtain contact information for your MP here: https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons

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27 October 2022: Monkeys used and killed in diet studies at Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University

Adult Japanese macaque; photo credit Jean Beaufort, FreeIMG
Adult Japanese macaque
credit Jean Beaufort, FreeIMG

Monkeys continue to be subjected to diet research at US institutions in inhumane experiments which involves them being forced to endure social deprivation, abnormal diets and sometimes death. All these experiments, publicly funded, in part or in whole, by the National Institutes of Health and its various branches, were carried out purportedly to understand how diet affects people. We report here just a few done recently at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, and approved by their institutional animal care and use committee. Summaries of the experiments (what you can do):

One hundred and twenty-two female Japanese macaques were used. They were given different diets, including the Western-style diet (containing protein and fat mainly from animal sources and high in salt and saturated fats, said to be similar to that consumed by middle-aged American women). They were allowed to become pregnant and allowed to give birth. After about 13 months, the juvenile macaques were all killed (euphemistically referred to as euthanized). Dunn et al 2022
NIH grants:: MH107508, MH117177, MH124824, OD011092

Thirty-nine female rhesus macaques were used. They were given different diets, including the Western-style diet, and a hormone. Endometriosis (disorder of the uterus) developed. The macaques were subjected to multiple abdominal surgeries over several years. All were killed at the end of the experiment. Bishop_36173894
NIH grants:: HD071836, OD011092

Adult female Japanese macaques, possibly 152, were used. The macaques were made obese through diet, including the Western-style diet, fed to them for up to nine years. They were allowed to become pregnant. At about 130 days of gestation (165 days is normal), the foetuses were surgically removed from the mothers and killed. Other female macaques were subjected to at least one additional pregnancy. In these cases, some of the foetuses were killed after surgical removal, but some were allowed to be born naturally and were killed a year later. The fate of the mothers was not stated. Nash et al 2021
NIH grants:: DK090964, DK122672, DK108910, DK048520, NS048154, DK116073

Forty female rhesus macaques were used. They were fed either a Western-style diet or a standard diet. Some were also implanted with testosterone to increase this hormone by three to five times normal. Some of the macaques developed endometriosis during this dietary and treatment regimen and could not be used. The macaques were subjected to anaesthesia and surgery to evaluate their ovaries after being injected with more hormones to stimulate egg development. Eggs were removed, grown in vitro and inseminated artificially. Fate of the macaques was not stated. Ravisankar et al 2022
NIH grants:: HD071836, OD011092

Fourteen late-middle to early-old age female rhesus macaques were used. They were fed a Western-style diet to create obesity. After about six weeks, all the macaques were subjected to major survival surgery to remove their ovaries and uteruses. Some were further treated with the hormone estradiol. After about 30 months, all the macaques were killed. Cervera-Juanes et al 2022
NIH grants:: AG029612, AG062220, OD011092, OD011895

Sixteen young adult female rhesus macaques were used. They were given either a standard diet or a Western-style diet with various modifications. All were also given an implant containing cholesterol under the skin. After about six years, they were impregnated by male rhesus macaques. After about 30 and 130 days, they were anaesthetised to do ultrasound. All foetuses were killed at the mid point of the third trimester by subjecting the macaques to caesarean section. The fate of the mothers was not stated. Roberts et al 2021
NIH grants:: OD011092, HD071836, HD086331

At least 35 young female rhesus macaques were used. They were given either a standard diet or a Western-style diet with various modifications. All were also given an implant containing cholesterol under the skin. In the fourth year of treatment, they were placed with a male rhesus macaque. Those who became pregnant had their foetuses killed during the third trimester by subjecting the macaques to caesarean section. The fate of the mothers was not stated. Bishop et al 2021
NIH grants:: HD071836, OD011092


The public are repeatedly told that non-human primates are used in research only when absolutely necessary and only when there are no other alternatives available. These shameful experiments, which resulted in the death of dozens of monkeys, demonstrate the meaningless nature of such assurances and a lack of commitment to stop using non-human primates. Not only is the information in macaques irrelevant to people given the fundamental difference in lifestyles between the two species, clinical studies have been and can continue to be done on relevant populations of people in order to get data that are directly applicable to people. As is always the case with the publication of the macaque studies, the authors acknowledged that many similar studies have already been done in people. The macaques in these studies had to endure the stress of captivity, virtual social isolation, impregnation only to have their offspring taken away, multiple major survival surgeries and, in some cases, death, for what can only be considered frivolous reasons.

Information gleaned from studies on human beings 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 National Institutes of Health, of which the NIAAA is a part (McManus_20130621). The many millions of tax-payer funds wasted annually on this kind of research would be of substantial use in helping people with dietary issues directly, and now, not at some never to be achieved time in the future.

This abuse of non-human primates must end. As long as the National Institutes of Health and its branches continue to reward researchers with millions of dollars to abuse non-human primates in the name of science, entities like Oregon Health & Science University will continue to concoct these cruel diet experiments that result in misery, suffering and death for these individuals. We ask people to send a message to the directors of the NIH and the relevant branches and object to this inhumane situation:


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References:

  1. Bishop, Cecily V.; Takahashi, Diana L.; Luo, Fangzhou; Sidener, Heather; Martin, Lauren Drew; Gao, Lina; Fei, Suzanne S.; Hennebold, Jon D. and Slayden, Ov D. 2022-09-29 "The combined impact of testosterone and Western-style diet on endometriosis severity and progression in rhesus macaques" Biology of Reproduction ioac183
  2. Bishop, Cecily V.; Takahashi, Diana; Mishler, Emily; Slayden, Ov D.; Roberts, Charles T.; Hennebold, Jon and True, Cadence 2021-01-25 "Individual and combined effects of 5-year exposure to hyperandrogenemia and Western-style diet on metabolism and reproduction in female rhesus macaques" Human Reproduction (Oxford, England) 36(2):444-454
  3. Cervera-Juanes, Rita; Darakjian, Priscila; Ball, Megan; Kohama, Steven G. and Urbanski, Henryk F. 2022-02-01 "Effects of estradiol supplementation on the brain transcriptome of old rhesus macaques maintained on an obesogenic diet" GeroScience 44(1):229-252
  4. Dunn, Geoffrey A.; Mitchell, A.J.; Selby, Matthew; Fair, Damien A.; Gustafsson, Hanna C. and Sullivan, Elinor L. 2022-05-01 "Maternal diet and obesity shape offspring central and peripheral inflammatory outcomes in juvenile non-human primates" Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 102:224-236
  5. McManus, Rich 2013-06-21 "Ex-Director Zerhouni surveys value of NIH research" N.I.H. Record 65(13):
  6. [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."
  7. Nash, Michael J.; Dobrinskikh, Evgenia; Newsom, Sean A.; Messaoudi, Ilhem; Janssen, Rachel C.; Aagaard, Kjersti M.; McCurdy, Carrie E.; Gannon, Maureen; Kievit, Paul; Friedman, Jacob E. and Wesolowski, Stephanie R. 2021-12-22 "Maternal Western diet exposure increases periportal fibrosis beginning in utero in nonhuman primate offspring" JCI Insight 6(24):e154093
  8. Ravisankar, Sweta; Murphy, Melinda J.; Redmayne-Titley, Nash; Davis, Brett; Luo, Fangzhou; Takahashi, Diana; Hennebold, Jon D. and Chavez, Shawn L. 2022-04-01 "Long-Term Hyperandrogenemia and/or Western-Style Diet in Rhesus Macaque Females Impairs Preimplantation Embryogenesis" Endocrinology 163(4):bqac019
  9. Roberts, Victoria H.J.; Streblow, Aaron D.; Gaffney, Jessica E.; Rettke, Samantha P.; Frias, Antonio E. and Slayden, Ov D. 2021-09-01 "Placental Glucose Uptake in a Nonhuman Primate Model of Western-Style Diet Consumption and Chronic Hyperandrogenemia Exposure" Reproductive Sciences 28(9):2574-2581

Information on NIH grant support funding the research was taken verbatim from the publications. If you have difficulty with the links provided, you can do your own search through the NIH RePORTER site: https://reporter.nih.gov/, by copying and pasting the grant number into the Search field on the form.

19 October 2022: The Macaque Report – Indonesia's Unprotected Primates

Infant long-tailed macaques for sale on roadside in Indonesia; photo credit JAAN/Sumatra Wildlife Center
Infant long-tailed macaque for sale, Indonesia
credit JAAN/Sumatra Wildlife Center

The Asia for Animals Macaque Coalition, of which Action for Primates is a member, has today released The Macaque Report – Indonesia's Unprotected Primates. The Report highlights the plight of long-tailed and southern pig-tailed macaques living in Indonesia. Despite their recent up-listing to Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, both species are not protected by the country's conservation legislation and are subjected to exploitation and abuse across the country.

Long-tailed and southern pig-tailed macaques are indigenous to Indonesia and are part of the rich and diverse ecosystem, contributing to the country's unique biodiversity. Sensationalist news media headlines about "marauding" and "thieving" monkeys, however, fuel negative public perceptions and further the false belief that there are simply too many of them. Without protection, and labelled as pests, the macaques are persecuted, killed or captured – torn from their natural habitat, family and social groups – to be sold at markets and into the 'pet' trade. Infants are taken from mothers to be kept as 'pets', abused for "likes" and profit online, or forced to 'perform', masked and chained, on the streets of major cities despite a national directive that this practice should end.

Wild infant long-tailed macaque brutally captured; photo credit Action for Primates
Wild infant long-tailed macaque brutally captured
credit Action for Primates

Macaques also suffer because of the global trade in non-human primates for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing, captured for breeding purposes by companies that supply thousands of macaques to laboratories in Indonesia and overseas, including China and the USA. In 2021, the export of wild-caught long-tailed macaques from Indonesia for research and toxicity testing resumed. Harrowing video footage released by Action for Primates revealed the shocking cruelty inflicted during such capture of long-tailed macaques in Indonesia (see our previous Take Action alert).

The Macaque Coalition is urging the Indonesian authorities to protect long-tailed and southern pig-tailed macaques and, together with the international community – including user countries such as the USA – take steps to ensure that the macaques of Indonesia do not disappear into extinction.

The Macaque Coalition comprises local and international animal protection organisations, which share an interest in protecting some of the most heavily exploited and misunderstood non-human primates on earth: macaques.

Contributing and supporting Macaque Coalition member organisations: Action for Primates; Animal Concerns Research & Education Society; Animal Friends Jogja; Animal Protection Denmark; Animals Asia Foundation; Animals Don't Speak Human; Born Free Foundation; Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations; Four Paws International; International Primate Protection League; Jakarta Animal Aid Network; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Hong Kong; Wild Welfare

How you can help Indonesia's macaques:

10 October 2022: Rhesus macaques subjected to severe restraint for reproduction research

Restraint devices used in this research, as see in the article
Restraint devices for monkeys
Image from open access article

Thirty-four 5-14 year old male rhesus macaques were used to compare different methods of restraint in order to get a semen sample using direct electrical stimulation of the penis in completely conscious individuals (Houser et al 2021). This was done at Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), Oregon Health & Science University. Their Institutional Care and Use Committee approved all studies in which these macaques were used. The work was funded entirely by US taxpayers through grant P51OD011092 from the National Institutes of Health.

All the macaques were born at the ONPRC. Of the 34, four were deprived of their mothers and raised in what the authors called a nursery. All were housed in stainless steel cages, 16 without direct contact with others of their kind and 18 who sometimes had another macaque in the cage with them. Twenty of the macaques were forced to endure pole and collar training in order to force them to get into a standard restraint device (seen on left in image), despite the authors acknowledging that this method of training was considered detrimental to the welfare of the individuals and that it is not considered best practice in Europe (Jennings et al 2009). According to the researchers, of these individuals, only 15 were successfully trained and the procedure had to be discontinued in the others because they showed excessive aggression towards the trainer or stress towards the procedures during multiple sessions.

The remaining 14 individuals were made to enter a closed-style box chair directly from their cage (seen on right in image).

In both cases, the macaques were subjected to training five days a week, from 3-35 minutes per session, until they entered the restraint device. Restraints were then used to hold the macaques in place (their arms and legs secured in the ORC [open-style restraint chair]; waist plates inserted and legs secured in the CBC [closed-style box chair]), and the first semen sample was collected.

The macaques were not sedated while restrained in the devices. Semen collection was done using the PTE 110 Volt AC electroejaculator. Electrodes were attached to the penis and a 10-20 volt electrical stimulus was applied for 90-120 seconds. If this did not cause ejaculation, it was repeated twice, but only if the animal remained collaborative of the process. (emphasis added).

The researchers purportedly carried out this research to improve the welfare of non-human primates for the collection of semen and to improve the quality of the semen. Some of the euphemistic terminology used shows the lengths to which the researchers will go to 'sanitise' their language and remove the situation from reality. For example, the researchers stated the macaques participated in the study and that non-human primates may be asked to remain restrained for extended periods of time. It was implied that the macaques were in collaboration with the researchers by using the term collaborative. In reality, however, these sentient and intelligent animals had their lives and bodies controlled and manipulated, used without their knowledge or consent, something a normal person would find abhorrent if done to people in a similar situation.

Please voice your objection to this inhumane exploitation of non-human primates:


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References:

  1. Houser, Lisa A.; Ramsey, Cathy; de Carvalho, Fernanda M.; Kolwitz, Breanna; Naito, Chelsey; Coleman, Kristine and Hanna, Carol B. 2021-08-12 "Improved Training and Semen Collection Outcomes Using the Closed Box Chair for Macaques" Animals 11(8):2384
    (This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License)
  2. Jennings, Maggy; Prescott, Mark J.; Members of the Joint Working Group on Refinement (Primates); Buchanan-Smith, Hannah M.; Gamble, Malcolm R.; Gore, Mauvis; Hawkins, Penny; Hubrecht, Robert; Hudson, Shirley; Keeley, Joanne R.; Morris, Keith; Morton, David B.; Owen, Steve; Pearce, Peter C.; Robb, David; Rumble, Rob J.; Wolfensohn, Sarah and Buist, David 2009-04-01 "Working Party Report: Refinements in husbandry, care and common procedures for non-human primates: Ninth report of the BVAAWF/FRAME/RSPCA/UFAW Joint Working Group on Refinement" Laboratory Animals 43(suppl 1):1-47

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

Pole and collar refers to placing a permanent metal collar around the neck of the individual. The collar has openings which can be 'grabbed' by the end of a specially designed pole. The individual then can be dragged around by the neck until they acquiesce to being manoeuvred in this manner. Almost all individuals vigorously object to being treated in this manner and it can take many weeks for them to acquiesce. Some become too aggressive for this method to be used.

23 September 2022: Urge Indonesia to stop cruel capture and export of monkeys for experiments

Captured long-tailed macaques in crate, Indonesia; credit Action for Primates
Captured female long-tailed macaque with infant, Indonesia; credit Action for Primates
Captured infant long-tailed macaque, Indonesia; credit Action for Primates
Infant long-tailed macaque captured, male in background being beaten; credit Action for Primates
Warning: distressing images
Captured female with infant
Captured infant
Captured juvenile, unwanted male killed

In 2021, the government of Indonesia lifted its ban on the capture and export of wild long-tailed macaques overseas for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing or for breeding by companies in Indonesia that export monkeys to laboratories in China and the USA. It set an annual quota allowing 2,070 individuals to be removed from their homes. Hundreds of wild monkeys were subsequently captured, torn from their natural habitat, family and social groups.

Harrowing footage released by Action for Primates, revealed the cruelty and suffering inflicted upon wild monkeys in Indonesia during their capture. This invoked global outrage and prominent news media coverage in Indonesia. As a result, hundreds of complaints from concerned people worldwide were sent to the Indonesian authorities. A postponement on setting a quota for the capture and export of wild long-tailed macaques in 2022, until population studies are carried out, has since been announced (Wicaksono 2022). See below for background information on this campaign.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our original appeal. We must, however, continue to object to the capture of long-tailed macaques in Indonesia, regardless of any population study results and even if you have done so already:


Findings:

The video footage released by Action for Primates provides compelling evidence of the cruelty of the trappers and the suffering and distress endured by the monkeys. 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 callous and indifferent attitude was displayed towards the monkeys. On capture, infants were separated from their mothers, causing distress to 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 internationally recognised as being inhumane (ISP 2021).

Conservation status:

The resumption in the capture of wild monkeys for research and toxicity testing was allowed despite widespread global concerns about the inherent inhumanity of trapping wild monkeys (EU 2020). Furthermore, there has been a critical new development regarding the conservation status of the long-tailed macaque. This species has now been assessed as Endangered (previously it was assessed as Vulnerable) for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species in 2022 (Hansen et al 2022). The IUCN assessment is based on the current degree of exploitation of the species, including national and international trade, hunting, capture for 'pet' trade and laboratories, and killing due to negative interactions with people. These, together with ongoing habitat destruction, all have contributed to the alarming decline in populations. If something is not done now to change the trend, it is expected that the species will be on the verge of extinction within the foreseeable future.

The reason usually given by the authorities for the monkey capture is negative interactions between monkeys and local communities. An ever-increasing human population with 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 killed outright or exported to laboratories, 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.

Fate in laboratories:

Monkeys exported from Indonesia are mainly destined for laboratories in the USA and China. 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 always results in death.

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 science. 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.

Cited information:

  1. European Union 2010-09-22 "Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes" European Union accessed 2022-08-06
  2. From November 2022, a ban on the import of wild-caught monkeys into the European Union for research purposes is expected, following an acknowledgement of the animal welfare, animal health and ethical problems that arise from the capture of non-human primates in the wild.
  3. Hansen, M.F.; Ang, A.; Trinh, T.; Sy, E.; Paramasiwam, S.; Ahmed, T.; Dimalibot, J.; Jones-Engel, L.; Ruppert, N.; Griffioen, C.; Lwin, N.; Phiapalath, P.; Gray, R.; Kite, S.; Doak, N.; Nijman, V.; Fuentes, A. and Gumert, M.D. 2022-07-01 "Macaca fascicularis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T12551A199563077" International Union for Conservation of Nature accessed 2022-09-20
  4. International Primatological Society 2021-01-01 "Trade in Primates Captured in the Wild" International Primatological Society accessed 2022-05-07
  5. 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
  6. Wicaksono, Raden Ariyo 2022-02-07 "Kera Ekor Panjang, Ditangkapi dan Diekspor untuk Biomedis" Betahita accessed 2022-09-20
  7. Cites an announcement made by Amir Hamidy, Director of the Secretariat of the Scientific Authority for Biological Diversity (SKIKH) from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), that there will be a postponement on setting a quota for the capture and export of wild long-tailed macaques in 2022, until population studies are carried out.

6 September 2022: Help Macaques Terrorised for Social Media Views at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Pig-tailed macaque forcibly held by video operators to remove baby, Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Pig-tailed macaque forcibly held
by video operators to remove baby
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is the most famous ancient temple complex in Cambodia and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a popular tourist destination in Cambodia, especially amongst those who want to see the troops of wild macaques who live in the complex. Tragically, however, the macaques are being exploited and terrorised for social media views. Video makers are deliberately causing stressful and distressing situations for the monkeys and are disrupting their social groups. They are feeding the monkeys, following them around incessantly, shouting at them and looking for ways to create trending content for social media.

An investigator for Lady Freethinker and Action for Primates, who visited the Angkor Wat complex, was shocked to see the way that video operators interfered with the monkeys, following and chasing them around the complex with their cameras. The investigator also had concerns about the fruit stalls and roaming motorbikes selling food for tourists to hand feed monkeys. Much of the feeding took place along the side of the road as cars full of tourists, including young children, stopped to do this. Such situations are potentially dangerous for children and the monkeys who were in danger of getting run over or injured on the roads.

One of the cruellest videos recently posted on social media shows female macaques being forcibly held while nursing babies are removed from them and placed into backpacks in what appeared to be an attempt to swap babies. The mothers cry out in fear and the vulnerable infants became confused and distraught.

Macaques relentlessly pursued by video operators filming for social media content, Angkor Wat, Cambodia; photo credit Lady Freethinker/Action for Primates
Macaques relentlessly pursued
by video operators filming for social media content
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
credit Lady Freethinker/Action for Primates

Other videos show the animals being relentlessly stalked by people with cameras who shout and prod them with metal rods. There have also been reports of video makers staging 'rescues', as well as releasing monkeys who have been raised as 'pets' into the existing wild population at Angkor Wat. The former 'pet' monkeys, who are not part of the established troops, are at risk of serious injury and death. It is obvious that the operators are only interested in creating drama for filming rather than looking out for the welfare of the captive individuals.

At Angkor Wat, video makers have turned monkey following into an industry and footage is posted daily across social media platforms. The video makers make money by having trending videos and by requesting funds from viewers.

Tourists encouraged to buy food and interact with monkeys at Angkor Wat, Cambodia; photo credit Lady Freethinker/Action for Primates
Tourists encouraged to buy food & interact with monkeys
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
credit Lady Freethinker/Action for Primates

Not only are these cruel activities having a substantial negative impact on the welfare and well-being of the resident macaques, they are also creating a substantial public health risk. Wild macaques are typically fearful of humans, but the artificial feeding of them has made them less afraid, so that they may become aggressive towards people in searching for food. The harassment of the macaques is likely to make them even more aggressive. Furthermore, close contact with the macaques puts humans and macaques at risk for disease transmission between them.

It is crucial that people do not interact with or harass the macaques. The feeding of the macaques at Angkor Wat should be prohibited. Cambodia already has a law – Article 49 of Cambodia Forestry Law – that states it is strictly prohibited to hunt, harm or harass all wildlife. This law should be strictly enforced.

Abusing and terrorising the macaques who live at Angkor Wat for social media views – or for any reason – is cruel and unacceptable.

For the sake of the macaques and the safety of the public, Action for Primates, Lady Freethinker and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia are urging the APSARA National Authority in Cambodia (responsible for managing the site at Angkor Wat) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to stop this inhumane, unlawful exploitation of macaques immediately.

Watch our video (warning: upsetting scenes):


Please sign and share our petition and send E-mail to voice your concerns:

4 September 2022: Ask Maleth Aero to stop transporting monkeys to laboratories

Young long-tailed macaques in cage at Cambodian breeding facility; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Young long-tailed macaques, Cambodian breeding facility
photo credit Cruelty Free International

Action for Primates has appealed to Malta-based airline – Maleth Aero – to stop transporting non-human primates from SE Asia to be used in research and toxicity (poisoning) testing. It has recently come to light that Maleth Aero, whose parent organisation is AELF FlightService, has become the latest airline to start transporting hundreds of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) from Cambodia to laboratories in the US. The most recent shipment took place on 1st September 2022, with a reported 360 monkeys flown from Cambodia to Houston, Texas, via Tbilisi, Georgia. The journey took almost 30 hours, with about seven hours on the ground at Tbilisi airport, including a two hour delay. This did not include the additional hours spent being loaded, unloaded and transferred to and from airports. This is a terrifying and traumatic ordeal for such sentient beings, who will also be suffering the agony of having been torn from their families and social groups. It is heartbreaking to know the unimaginable suffering and death they still face at their destination – likely victims of the toxicity (poisoning) testing industry.

The negative welfare issues surrounding the shipping of non-human primates are compelling. Monkeys are transported as cargo in crates that are too small to permit normal postural adjustments nor any exercise. They may have to endure inadequate ventilation, noise, extreme temperature fluctuations and delays en route. Statistics for primate deaths and illnesses, either during transportation or subsequently, are generally not publicised. There are, however, reports of monkeys found dead on arrival, including from Cambodia (Willemyns & Bopha 2014). On 15th November 2021, several monkeys were found dead on board a Wamos Air flight from Cambodia to Houston (Dalton & Colley 2021).

In addition to welfare concerns surrounding transportation, there are also conservation issues to consider regarding the long-tailed macaque. A recent global assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species in 2022, has increased the status of the long-tailed macaque to Endangered with a decreasing population trend (Hansen et al 2022). If something is not done now to change the trend, it is expected that the species will be on the verge of extinction within the foreseeable future.

The transportation by airlines of non-human primates destined for the research and toxicity testing industry is an issue that invokes strong public concern. Many of the world's leading airlines – 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 abhorrent business. Air France, Egyptair and Kenya Airways are the latest airlines to join this list, having stopped transporting monkeys in the past few months. Many other passenger airlines and cargo companies have also declared their intent to not become involved in this trade.

Together with One Voice and Stop Camarles in Europe and PeTA in the US, Action for Primates is calling on Maleth Aero to stop transporting non-human primates for research and toxicity testing, and to join the many other airlines that refuse to play a role in this cruel and immoral trade:

References:

  1. Dalton, Jane and Colley, Claire 2021-11-19 "Monkeys flown to US for lab tests die on board plane" The Independent accessed 2021-12-15
  2. Hansen, M.F.; Ang, A.; Trinh, T.; Sy, E.; Paramasiwam, S.; Ahmed, T.; Dimalibot, J.; Jones-Engel, L.; Ruppert, N.; Griffioen, C.; Lwin, N.; Phiapalath, P.; Gray, R.; Kite, S.; Doak, N.; Nijman, V.; Fuentes, A. and Gumert, M.D. 2022-07-01 "Macaca fascicularis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T12551A199563077" International Union for Conservation of Nature accessed 2022-07-31
  3. Willemyns, Alex and Bopha, Phorn 2014-08-28 "Monkeys sent to US died of trauma en route" The Cambodia Daily accessed 2020-03-15

29 July 2022: Uncovered: Secret transport of monkeys from Vietnam to The Netherlands for European laboratories

Long-tailed macaques delivered by Hartelust to testing laboratory; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques from Hartelust unloaded at laboratory
credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

The secret transport of 240 long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) on 26th June 2022, from Vietnam to Maastricht airport in the Netherlands, has been uncovered by Action for Primates, Stop Camarles, One Voice and Animal Rights. The macaques were destined for R. C. Hartelust BV, an animal dealer in Tilburg, that supplies monkeys to laboratories across Europe.

According to the information obtained, the macaques, costing $4,000 (3,942 Euros) each, were supplied by a company called Thanh Cong in Lang Son Province and transported as cargo by Easy Charter, a small Tbilisi-based charter cargo company in Georgia. Imprisoned singly in small transit crates, the monkeys' ordeal involved two international flights – from Hanoi to Maastricht via Dubai – totalling around 13 hours with a two hour stop-over in Dubai. The role of Easy Charter as a transporter of monkeys for laboratories had not been previously known. In June, Air France, the main transporter of monkeys to Europe from Mauritius and Vietnam, announced that it was ending its involvement in the trade.

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

The global trade in non-human primates for research is a cruel and brutal business that is responsible for shipping tens of thousands of individuals to their deaths around the world. Vietnam is a major exporter of long-tailed macaques to laboratories and primate dealers in Europe. In 2020, the country reported exports of 5,378 captive-bred macaques to Germany (265), Spain (1186), France (860) and the UK (178), as well as to the US (480), Japan (1814), Singapore (41) and South Korea (41). Hartelust is one of the main commercial primate dealers in Europe. Others include Silabe (Simian Laboratory Europe), a company based in Niederhausbergen, France, and Camarney SL, near Barcelona in Spain. Both import thousands of long-tailed macaques from Vietnam and Mauritius to sell on to laboratories across Europe.

Due to concerns regarding its conservation status, the long-tailed macaque has recently been uplisted to Endangered (previously it was Vulnerable) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (1). The new status assessment, published by the IUCN on 21st July 2022, is based on the degree of exploitation of the species. This includes the global trade in long-tailed macaques for use in research and toxicity (poisoning) testing and the destruction of its habitat, which are decimating wild populations. These activities are expected to result in a ≥50% decline in population size over the coming three generations (36-39 years) if not mitigated. There have long been concerns of an illegal trade and the legitimacy of captive-breeding claims in breeding farms across SE Asia, as well as concerns over the impact on wild macaque populations, as a result of monkeys being captured for breeding purposes.

According to the most recent data available, in 2019, 7,475 non-human primates were used for the first time in research in the EU, the majority of whom (6,748) were long-tailed macaques (2). This figure does not, however, include those individuals used or killed to obtain blood products, tissues and organs. The long-tailed macaque is the most heavily traded non-human primate species and the most widely used by the global research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry, including in Europe. 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 usually given intravenously (into the bloodstream), subcutaneously (under the skin) or 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; although, all individuals are killed at the end of the tests.

Please speak up for these monkeys by joining Action for Primates, Stop Camarles, One Voice and Animal Rights, who are campaigning for an end to the trade and transportation of non-human primates for research and toxicity testing:

  1. If you are an EU citizen, write to your MEP to raise your concerns about the import and use of non-human primates in laboratories. Contact information can be found here: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/home
  2. Sign the Animal Rights petition calling on the authorities to introduce a complete ban on the transport of non-human primates through all Dutch and Belgian airports: https://www.animalrights.nl/geen-transport-van-proefapen-onze-luchthavens
  3. Write to Easy Charter: Rati Dzeria, Director, E-mail: office@easycharter.ge – clicking on E-mail address will create a sample message you can edit and send

References:

  1. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/12551/199563077
  2. https://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/reports_en.htm

21 July 2022: Long-tailed macaque listed as Endangered by IUCN Red List

Female long-tailed macaque trapped with her infant in Indonesia; photo credit Action for Primates
Trapped mother & infant, Indonesia
credit Action for Primates

The long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) is now listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The new status assessment, published by the IUCN as Endangered A3cd, is based on the current degree of exploitation of the species. This includes their trade for research and testing, as 'pets', for 'entertainment', for human consumption as well as killing because of negative interactions with people. These, together with ongoing habitat destruction, are decimating wild populations of long-tailed macaques. Such activities are expected to result in a ≥50% decline in population size over the coming three generations (36-39 years) if not mitigated.

The long-tailed macaque is the most heavily traded non-human primate species and the most widely used by the global research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. The trade in the species has developed into an industrialised scale enterprise focused within Southeast Asia, in particular China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Indonesia and the Philippines, with hundreds of thousands of macaques exported in recent years. The countries using the most long-tailed macaques are the US, China, Europe, Japan and Canada. An embargo on the export of long-tailed macaques from China to the US during the coronavirus pandemic has led to a recent marked increase in exports from other countries, such as Cambodia and Mauritius, with a resumption in the trade from Indonesia and Lao PDR. Cambodia has reported a surge in exports in recent years: 2015 (3,361), 2018 (9,610), 2019 (13,922) and 2020 (29,466), with hundreds of long-tailed macaques transported as cargo via airlines such as Egyptair to laboratories in the US.

Sarah Kite, co-founder, Action for Primates, stated: This is a wake-up call for how we view and interact with the long-tailed macaque. Because of the impact of human activities on the species and its habitat, especially the global trade in research and toxicity (poisoning) testing, the future of this intelligent non-human primate, who plays an important role in biodiversity and ecosystems, is seriously under threat. Given that human beings are the cause of this threat, we have a moral obligation to act now – before it is too late – to protect the long-tailed macaque.
Long-tailed macaques in cages, Laos breeding facility; photo Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques, Laos breeding facility
photo Cruelty Free International

Despite widespread global concerns about the inherent inhumanity of the capture of wild monkeys for breeding facilities or for export, it is a practice that continues. Most recently, in 2021, the government of Indonesia allowed the capture and export of wild long-tailed macaques to resume. Hundreds of wild monkeys were subsequently torn from their natural habitat, family and social groups. Harrowing footage released by Action for Primates has shone a spotlight on the cruelty and suffering inflicted upon the macaques, including monkeys trapped inside large nets and forcibly removed by hand, often dragged out by their tails, stuffed into sacks or crammed into wooden crates; infants cruelly separated from their mothers; and the brutal beating and killing of unwanted alpha males.

The increase in global trade has placed further pressure on wild populations, including concerns of an illegal trade and the validity of captive breeding claims by supply companies. This is in addition to existing pressures such as the capture of wild macaques for domestic use in laboratories, to replenish breeding facilities, to supply the 'pet' and entertainment trade – including the filming of abused baby macaques to post on social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook – and hunting for human consumption. The long-tailed macaque is also relentlessly persecuted as a 'pest', the result of human encroachment on their natural habitat which results in negative interactions with people. In some countries, the solution to dealing with this is to kill the monkeys rather than trying to use proven methods to resolve the situation humanely. For example, in Malaysia between 2015-2018, the authorities killed a shocking 240,469 long-tailed macaques in a failed effort to reduce unfavourable interactions with people.

We must act today to ensure a future for long-tailed macaques. Please join Action for Primates and call for action to be taken to protect these threatened, sentient beings. Here are several actions you can take and urge others to do the same:

19 July 2022: Monkeys deliberately paralysed in Swiss research

Long-tailed macaque in European laboratory; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaque in European laboratory
credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

Monkeys were deliberately paralysed in research to study hand and arm motor function. Published in July 2022, the experiment was carried out in Switzerland involving researchers from several institutions, including University Hospital Lausanne (CHUV), University of Fribourg, University of Geneva and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne as well as researchers from the University of Pittsburgh in the USA (Barra et al 2022). Several of the researchers have financial interests relating to this work. The work was supported, at least in part, using public funds including European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The protocols were approved by local veterinary authorities of the Canton of Fribourg (veterinary authorization Nos. 2017_04_FR and 2017_04E_FR) and included an ethical assessment by the local (cantonal) Survey Committee on Animal Experimentation and final acceptance by the Federal Veterinary Office (BVET, Bern, Switzerland).

Three female long-tailed macaques were used: one who was nine years old, two who were three years old. Each monkey was subjected to at least three survival surgeries under anaesthesia:

After the spinal cord damage, the macaques were restrained and tested to see the effects of electrically stimulating the brain and muscles artificially in reach-and-grasp tasks – to reach for, grasp and pull an instrumented object placed on the end of a robotic arm. The monkeys were also sedated and more tests were done. All three macaques were killed after the testing to get tissues for further evaluation.

Photographs and video recordings of the monkeys post surgery, restrained and 'carrying out' the reach-and-grasp tasks were made. These visual media, however, are being made available only by reasonable request because they contain sensitive...graphic information on monkeys. Authorisation from the Swiss cantonal authorities is required.

It has recently been announced that a group of Swiss research institutions (including the University of Fribourg, where this research took place) have pledged to become more transparent about their use of non-human animals in research, including making images and videos from their facilities available (Magee 2022; swissuniversities 2022). Action for Primates believes that in the interests of this new position in transparency, the visuals showing what happened to the macaques in this research should be released into the public domain. We are aware that some of this material has been released to one major news medium (Liberatore 2022), but it should be available to all. The public, who are often the ones who pay for this type of research, should have full and unimpeded access so that they can be fully informed about just what happens to non-human animals in the research they fund.

This research will have caused these unwilling and non-consenting macaques to suffer greatly – subjected to multiple surgeries, forced restraint, the distress of the paralysis of their arm and hand. Researchers defend this brutal treatment and the killing of non-human primates like these macaques, on the basis of their similarity to humans. The researchers, however, appear to consider only the mechanical nature of these similarities. We know that, like people, macaques have emotions, are intelligent, have desires, play, help each other, express sorrow and much more. Action for Primates believes we have no right to subject non-human primates (and other non-human animals) to things we would consider immoral if done to people. There is widespread public concern regarding the use of non-human primates in research. Scientists who are primate experts are calling for an end to this type of highly invasive work (Padrell et al 2021).

Write to the following to express your opposition to this cruel research on long-tailed macaques::

References:

  1. Barra, Beatrice; Conti, Sara; Perich, Matthew G.; Zhuang, Katie; Schiavone, Giuseppe; Fallegger, Florian; Galan, Katia; James, Nicholas D.; Barraud, Quentin; Delacombaz, Maude; Kaeser, Mélanie; Rouiller, Eric M.; Milekovic, Tomislav; Lacour, Stephanie; Bloch, Jocelyne; Courtine, Grégoire and Capogrosso, Marco 2022-07-01 "Epidural electrical stimulation of the cervical dorsal roots restores voluntary upper limb control in paralyzed monkeys" Nature Neuroscience 25(7):924-934
    Competing interests: G.C., J.B., S.L., M.C., B.B. and K.Z. hold various patents in relation to the present work. G.C., S.L. and J.B. are founders and shareholders of Onwarrd Medical, a company developing an EES-based therapy to restore movement after spinal cord injury. M.C. is a founder and shareholder of Reach Neuro, Inc., a company developing spinal cord stimulation technologies for stroke.
    Data availability: Due to the sensitive nature of the dataset, which contains graphic information on monkeys, raw data, including videos, will be available upon reasonable request to the corresponding author and after authorization from the Swiss cantonal authorities.
  2. Liberatore, Stacy 2022-06-30 "Arm and hand movements are RESTORED in paralyzed monkeys by an external stimulator that zaps spinal cord in a breakthrough that could help millions of people regain their mobility" Mail Online Accessed 2022-07-19
  3. Magee, Rachel 2022-07-05 "Swiss institutions pledge transparency on animal research" Research Professional News Accessed 2022-07-19
  4. Padrell, Maria; Llorente, Miquel and Amici, Federica 2021-10-01 "Invasive Research on Non-Human Primates—Time to Turn the Page" Animals 11(10):2999
  5. swissuniversities 2022 "Swiss Transparency Agreement on Animal Research (STAAR)" Accessed 2022-07-19

12 July 2022: Help Japanese snow monkeys!

Japanese macaques on Mount Takasaki, Japan
Japanese macaques
Mount Takasaki, Japan

Action for Primates is supporting Japan Anti-Vivisection Association (JAVA) with its campaign to stop Oita City, Japan, from capturing wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), also known as snow monkeys, to 'donate' to Uruguay as a 'sign of friendship'.

Oita was one of the host cities for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and the Uruguayan national team based itself in Oita City during the tournament. As a diplomatic gift, the mayor of Oita wants to bridge the two countries and raise the name recognition of the city by sending a 'gift' of 15 wild Japanese macaques. The macaques are to be captured from Mount Takasaki and sent to a zoo – the Bioparque Washington Rodriguez Piquinela, in Uruguay.

Action for Primates is appalled that Japan would consider it a sign of 'friendship' to forcibly remove macaques from their native habitat, separating them from their family and social groups, and sending them thousands of miles away from home to be confined in a zoo, a completely alien environment, for human 'entertainment'. This is an incredibly cruel and senseless thing to do. Non-human primates have complex social, behavioural and psychological needs. The artificial and restricted environment in which wild animals are kept in zoos – even so-called natural enclosures – cannot compare with their natural habitat nor provide what is needed. Denied their freedom inside zoos, non-human primates have no control over their lives, which are often a mixture of boredom, frustration, lack of privacy and continuous anxiety.

Please join the campaign calling on Mr. Kiichiro Sato, the Mayor of Oita, to abandon the plan to capture and send wild Japanese macaques to Uruguay and, instead, offer a friendship gift that does not involve animal suffering:

5 July 2022: New report, 'Teasing as Torture', reveals disturbing trend in animal cruelty videos

SMACC Teasing as Torture report group logos
SMACC Teasing as Torture report

The Asia for Animals Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC), of which Action for Primates is a member, has today released a new report – Teasing as Torture – revealing a disturbing trend in animal cruelty videos. The report is the first in a series of theme-specific exposés of the horrific world of online animal cruelty content. It documents that, between February and May 2022, SMACC recorded almost 200 individual links to videos containing teasing content on Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. Almost 70% of the videos featured monkeys (macaques), the most common victims of this teasing abuse.

The documented videos showed many forms of teasing which resulted in physical abuse and psychological distress to the animals. They included starving animals taunted with food placed just outside their reach or given food they could not physically lift to their mouths; vulnerable and distressed baby monkeys filmed being ignored, laughed at, pushed around, or otherwise taunted; scaring animals by setting off firecrackers while they are sleeping or by humans wearing terrifying masks; baby monkeys in restrictive clothing forced to walk on their hind legs or forced to jump or crawl, causing them to fall on their faces.

What you can do to help:

SMACC coordinates efforts globally among animal organisations to raise awareness, educate the public and push for animal cruelty content to be removed from social media platforms. For more advice on what to do: https://www.smaccoalition.com/public-advice

Restricting movement abuse; photo credit SMACC
Restricting movement abuse; credit SMACC
Nedim C Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Co-founder & Veterinary Advisor, Action for Primates; Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine: The disturbing findings of the Teasing as Torture report show that, rather than being harmless, teasing is a form of torture for non-human animals, who cannot understand or know the intentions of the perpetrator. To the teaser, it may just seem like 'fun', but to the non-human animal involved, it may be perceived as a threat against their lives, resulting in terror and distress. Regardless of intent, such treatment of non-human animals constitutes cruelty. The situation is made even worse when it is filmed as 'entertainment' and posted on social media because it normalises such abhorrent treatment and can encourage others to do likewise.

I urge social media companies to recognise this teasing for what it is – abuse and torture – and to take the responsible and moral path to prevent such content from appearing on their platforms.

A joint investigation recently carried out in Cambodia by Action for Primates and Lady Freethinker, highlighted the substantial harm, suffering and distress inflicted upon baby monkeys for 'entertainment' on channels that are often monetised. Watch our video (warning: contains upsetting scenes): This is the Truth Behind those 'Cute' Baby Monkey Videos

30 June 2022: Public funds used to turn monkeys into 'alcoholics' at Oregon Health & Science University in US

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

Monkeys continue to be subjected to forced alcohol (ethanol) consumption at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in inhumane experiments purportedly to understand alcohol use disorder (AUD) in people. All these experiments are being publicly funded, in part or in whole, by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a branch of the National Institutes of Health. They are yet more examples in a highly disturbing and continuing series of publicly-funded projects in which non-human primates are forced to consume alcohol by coercion. In the most recent experiments we list here, most were approved by the Oregon National Primate Research Center Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, although one publication did not include this assurance (Benton et al 2022). Summaries of the experiments (what you can do):

Ninety-one long-tailed and rhesus macaques were forced to consume alcohol starting at four to ten years of age and continuing for as long as eight years. Despite being highly social animals with direct contact with others playing a vital role in their lives, they were kept essentially socially isolated (singly-housed). They could only see, hear and smell the other macaques; no physical contact was allowed during the experiment to see the effects of alcohol consumption on bone. The ultimate fate of the macaques was not stated, nor was there mention of any animal use committee approval. Benton et al 2022

Seven male rhesus macaques were housed in small stainless steel cages and forced to consume alcohol regularly for many months. They were subjected to surgery to inject material into the brain. They were eventually all killed in order to collect brain tissue for further study. The purpose of the work was to see whether a specific part of the brain was affected by alcohol. Allen et al 2022

Thirty rhesus macaques were forced to consume alcohol, up to and including what the researchers described as very heavy drinkers. They were kept essentially socially isolated (singly-housed; they could only see, hear and smell other macaques, with no physical contact allowed) during the experiment to see the effects of alcohol consumption and diet. Some of or all the macaques were killed. Moore et al 2022

Nineteen rhesus macaques were used; 13 were forced to consume alcohol for about 14 months. They were then forced to endure three abstinence phases lasting about one month each. After the first two abstinence periods, they were forced to consume more alcohol for about three months each time. The macaques were killed to obtain brain tissue to see the effects of alcohol drinking and periods of abstinence. Patel et al 2022

Thirty rhesus macaques had been forced to consume alcohol for at least 12 months. They were then killed and their brains removed for further study. Tissues from people with a similar use of alcohol were provided by a resource centre which banked those tissues. The purpose of the study was to determine how the neurobeachin gene might be involved in the brain of heavy drinking macaques and people. Given that the information was being derived from people, the use of macaques clearly was contrary to the Replacement criterion for the 3Rs. Cuzon Carlson et al 2022

Twelve female rhesus macaques were forced to consume alcohol every day before and after becoming pregnant and continuing for 60 days into the pregnancy. Another twelve female rhesus macaques were given a non-alcoholic compound each day similarly through 60 days of pregnancy. At 60 days (normal gestation is about 166 days), all the macaques were subjected to cesarean delivery surgery to remove the foetuses, who were still alive. The mothers' foetuses were killed. The placentas and dead foetuses were studied to see the effects of alcohol on reproduction. The fate of the mothers was not stated. Lo et al 2022

Fifteen male rhesus macaques were kept singly in cages and forced to consume alcohol equivalent to heavy drinking in people. They were 'trained' to respond to certain stimuli. Testing was done to see the effects of alcohol on this task. The experiment continued for at least six months. The purpose was to see what caused macaques to become heavy drinkers. There was no mention of the ultimate fate of the macaques. Grant et al 2021

Eight rhesus macaques were forced to consume alcohol to the point of becoming chronic heavy drinkers. Blood was taken from the macaques to see the effects this drinking had on certain cells in the blood. The ultimate fate of the macaques not stated. Lewis et al 2021


Alcohol use disorder is a purely human disease, with literally tens of thousands of papers published on this condition using human patients and volunteers. We can find no evidence that non-human primate studies have provided a better understanding and management of patients than have these studies in people.

There is enough human misery and suffering associated with alcohol consumption without deliberately inflicting the same on other sentient beings. Scientists routinely try to assuage public concern for the considerable suffering and death they inflict on sentient beings by arguing it is only done when absolutely necessary. Oregon Health & Science University states that they require researchers to 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. Given that human studies are being done regularly – and numerous ones were cited by the authors of the macaque research – we fail to understand what justification could have been provided to use and often kill these macaques at OHSU. We already know that AUD can be controlled and treated completely satisfactorily if the person is willing. None of the non-human primate studies address this key component nor the underlying social, economic, mental health, human genetic or a myriad of other specifically human situations that are critical in understanding and managing AUD in people. Regardless of one's views on whether we should be doing harmful research on non-human primates at all, it surely is the height of immorality to subject these unwilling individuals to conditions that already have solutions.

Information gleaned from studies on human beings 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 National Institutes of Health, of which the NIAAA is a part (McManus 2013). The many millions of tax-payer funds wasted annually on this kind of research would be of substantial use in helping people with substance abuse issues directly, and now, not at some never to be achieved magical time in the future.

This abuse of non-human primates must end. As long as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism continues to reward researchers with millions of dollars to abuse non-human primates in the name of science, entities like Oregon Health & Science University will continue to concoct these cruel alcohol experiments that result in misery, suffering and death for these individuals. We ask people to write to the head of NIAAA and object to this inhumane situation:

References:

  1. Allen, Daicia C.; Jimenez, Vanessa A.; Carlson, Timothy L.; Walter, Nicole A.; Grant, Kathleen A. and Cuzon Carlson, Verginia C. 2022-03-01 "Characterization of DREADD receptor expression and function in rhesus macaques trained to discriminate ethanol" Neuropsychopharmacology 47(4):857-865
  2. Funded by at least grants AA013510, AA019431, AA024660
  3. Benton, Mary Lauren; Jimenez, Vanessa A.; Newman, Natali; Gonzales, Steven W.; Grant, Kathleen A.; Turner, Russell T.; Iwaniec, Urszula T. and Baker, Erich J. 2022-06-01 "Dose-response effects of alcohol on biochemical markers of bone turnover in non-human primates: Effects of species, sex and age of onset of drinking" Bone Reports 16:101159
  4. Funded by at least grants AA013510, AA013641, AA019431
  5. Cuzon Carlson, Verginia C.; Aylwin, Carlos F.; Carlson, Timothy L.; Ford, Matthew; Mesnaoui, Houda; Lomniczi, Alejandro; Ferguson, Betsy and Cervera-Juanes, Rita P. 2022-01-01 "Neurobeachin, a promising target for use in the treatment of alcohol use disorder" Addiction Biology 27(1):e13107
  6. Funded by at least grants AA026092, AA026278, AA027552
  7. Grant, K.A.; Newman, N.; Gonzales, S. and Shnitko, T.A. 2021-11-01 "Replicability in measures of attentional set-shifting task performance predicting chronic heavy drinking in rhesus monkeys" Alcohol 96:93-98
  8. Funded by at least grant AA010760
  9. Lewis, Sloan A.; Sureshchandra, Suhas; Doratt, Brianna; Jimenez, Vanessa A.; Stull, Cara; Grant, Kathleen A. and Messaoudi, Ilhem 2021-08-20 "Transcriptional, Epigenetic, and Functional Reprogramming of Monocytes From Non-Human Primates Following Chronic Alcohol Drinking" Frontiers in Immunology 12:724015
  10. Funded by at least grants AA013510, AA019431, AA028735
  11. Lo, Jamie O.; Schabel, Matthias C.; Roberts, Victoria H.J.; Morgan, Terry K.; Fei, Suzanne S.; Gao, Lina; Ray, Karina G.; Lewandowski, Katherine S.; Newman, Natali P.; Bohn, Jacqueline A.; Grant, Kathleen A.; Frias, Antonio E. and Kroenke, Christopher D. 2022-01-01 "Effects of early daily alcohol exposure on placental function and fetal growth in a rhesus macaque model" American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 226(1):130.e1-130.e11
  12. Funded by at least grant AA021981
  13. McManus, Rich 2013-06-21 "Ex-Director Zerhouni surveys value of NIH research" N.I.H. Record 65(13)
  14. [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."
  15. Moore, Sharon; Radunskaya, Ami; Zollinger, Elizabeth; Grant, Kathleen A.; Gonzales, Steven; Walter, Nicole A.R. and Baker, Erich J. 2022-03-01 "Pairing food and drink: A physiological model of blood ethanol levels for a variety of drinking behaviors" Mathematical Biosciences 345:108778
  16. Funded by at least grants AA019431, AA010760, AA024660
  17. Patel, Reesha R.; Varodayan, Florence P.; Herman, Melissa A.; Jimenez, Vanessa; Agnore, Rebecca; Gao, Lina; Bajo, Michal; Cuzon Carlson, Verginia C.; Walter, Nicole A.; Fei, Suzanne S.; Grant, Kathleen A. and Roberto, Marisa 2022-03-01 "Synaptic effects of IL-1β and CRF in the central amygdala after protracted alcohol abstinence in male rhesus macaques" Neuropsychopharmacology 47(4):847-856
  18. Funded by at least grants AA013498, AA025408, AA019431, AA013641, AA006420, AA015566, AA027700, AA021491, AA013510, AA010760

Grant support funding the research (click on link to see information; all amounts in US$):

1 June 2022: US taxpayers pay for monkeys to be killed to study itching and pain

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

In this deplorable publicly funded experiment (Kiguchi et al 2022), six rhesus macaques, four males and two females, aged 10-16 years, had their lives taken from them in an experiment to look at the neurotransmission of itch and pain in non-human primates.

The work was conducted at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, although two authors have Japanese affiliations. Funding was through the National Institutes of Health via the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases grants AR064456 and AR069861.

The macaques were forced to live singly, without benefit of vital social contact with others of their kind. To prepare them for the experiment, they were anaesthetised and the spinal column of each individual was dissected to expose the spinal cord. Test drugs were then injected into the spinal cord space (called an intrathaecal injection). The macaques were allowed to recover from the surgery, placed back into their cages and tested to see what effects the drugs had on itching and pain.

To study scratching, capsaicin – a chemical found in chilli peppers, which causes a burning sensation when placed on the skin – was applied via a bandage attached to the last 3-5 cm of the monkeys' tails for 15 minutes. The macaques were then observed in their cages to see how much they itched relative to the 'treatment' they received during surgery.

To study the effects of the experimental treatment on pain, the last 15 cm of their tails were shaved to expose the skin. The conscious monkeys were then forced into a restraint apparatus (chairs), and the shaved portion of their tails was immersed into hot water maintained at 42, 46 or 50°C. The researchers stated that 50°C was an acute noxious [painful] stimulus. It is known that water at 49°C (120°F), for example, can be painful to a person and can lead to second degree burns within eight minutes and third degree burns within ten minutes. Although the researchers stated that thermal injury was not seen in the monkeys, the hot water clearly caused pain.

At the end of the experiment, all the macaques were killed to obtain their organs for further analysis.

This study was to determine neurological control over itching and pain under the conditions of the experiment. It was essentially purely basic science and had no clinical relevance, with little to no translatability to the human situation. We know that even so-called promising basic science research rarely impacts on how human patients are managed (Contopoulos et al 2003).

Please write to the funding agency to let them know that funding this kind of treatment of our closest living non-human relatives to be inhumane and unacceptable:

References:

  1. Kiguchi, Norikazu; Ding, Huiping; Park, Sun H.; Mabry, Kelsey M.; Kishioka, Shiroh; Shiozawa, Yusuke; Romero-Sandoval, E. Alfonso; Peters, Christopher M. and Ko, Mei-Chuan 2022-04-01 "Functional roles of neuromedin B and gastrin-releasing peptide in regulating itch and pain in the spinal cord of non-human primates" Biochemical Pharmacology 198:114972
  2. Contopoulos-Ioannidis, Despina G.; Ntzani, Evangelia E. and Ioannidis, John P.A. 2003-04-15 "Translation of highly promising basic science research into clinical applications" The American Journal of Medicine 114(6):477-484

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

20 May 2022: UPDATED: 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

UPDATE: June 2022 – Action for Primates has welcomed the announcement from Air France that it has decided to stop transporting non-human primates for laboratory use. The airline made the announcement on 30 June 2022 via Twitter, stating that it will end the transport as soon as its current contractual commitments come to an end. See our 1 July 2022 News Release for more information.


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: UPDATED: Please call on Egyptair to stop transporting monkeys to laboratories

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

UPDATE: August 2022 – Action for Primates has welcomed the announcement from Egyptair that it has stopped transporting non-human primates for laboratory use. Thank you to everyone who supported our campaign by writing to the airline.


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 objecting to Egyptair's involvement in this brutal trade, even if you have done so recently, urging the airline to stop transporting monkeys for the global research and toxicity testing industry. Because Egyptair is wholly owned by the Egyptian government, we have included messaging to the Prime Minister, too:

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

Infant northern pig-tailed macaque treated as a toy; photo credit Lady Freethinker & Action for Primates
Infant northern pig-tailed 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 monkeys. 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 (McDonald et al 2017). 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.smaccoalition.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 (Gerak & France 2021). 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 The Netherlands.

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 (Piacentino et al 2021). 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 (McManus 2013). 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 (Hedges et al 2022). 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. Click here for a short video of the trapping of monkeys.

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 (Silasi et al 2021). 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 (McManus 2013). 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).