Action for Primates

Long-tailed macaques, photo by Sarah Kite
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News 2023

The following are news items we have posted in 2023. See elsewhere for news from other years.

Index of news items; select date & title to access:

6 June 2023: Canada disregards US import suspension, allowing hundreds of monkeys from Cambodia to be imported

Long-tailed macaque, Cambodian breeding farm; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaque, Cambodian breeding farm
credit Cruelty Free International

Action for Primates has joined with PETA to urge Canada to halt primate imports. An urgent letter has been sent to the Canadian Wildlife Service, Health Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, informing them that hundreds of long-tailed macaques are being imported to Canada from Cambodia for use in laboratories and that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has suspended such imports to the US, following its federal monkey smuggling investigation and indictments.

According to international trade data, Canada imported monkeys worth $1.23 million from Cambodia after Cambodian government officials were indicted by the US Department of Justice in November 2022, for alleged smuggling. In February 2023, major importer Charles River Laboratories announced that it was suspending imports from Cambodia into the US. The Website of the Canadian government has not been updated on this matter since March, but insiders have told Action for Primates and PETA that hundreds of monkeys have arrived in Montréal in the past 30 days, transported by Hi Fly Malta and Bluebird Nordic.

The conservation status of the long-tailed macaque has recently been increased to Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Threats facing the species include the global trade for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing. Furthermore, there are specific concerns regarding the trade in macaques from Cambodia. A federal investigation by the US authorities into the global trafficking of long-tailed macaques into the US resulted in charges being filed against Cambodian wildlife officials and others alleging that wild-caught long-tailed macaques imported by US companies were falsely stated to be captive-bred at Cambodian primate facilities.

Charles River Laboratories, which has Canadian facilities, has been served with a subpoena from the US Department of Justice in connection with its federal investigation into monkey trafficking, and currently more than 1,000 long-tailed macaques the company imported into the US from Cambodia are in limbo after the US Fish and Wildlife Service stopped their onward sale to laboratories.

6 May 2023: Animal Protection Groups Urge Ban on Mauritius Monkey Imports Following TB Outbreak

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

Action for Primates has joined with PeTA, Abolición Vivisección and One Voice in calling for a ban on the export of long-tailed macaques from Mauritius following a reported outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) at a monkey farm in the country.

The TB outbreak at one of the facilities that exports long-tailed macaques is just the latest fuel added to the ever-growing conflagration in the monkey abduction pipeline for the global research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. Any monkey testing positive for TB in this farm signals that there are likely many more, some of whom may have already been shipped to laboratories in the US, UK, Spain and France – all countries which regularly import long-tailed macaques from Mauritius. Animal groups have been sounding the alarm for years: confining hundreds of monkeys in crowded, unnatural conditions is not only inhumane, it inevitably spreads diseases and confounds research.

Tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease that can be transmitted between monkeys and people. Importantly, testing is not completely reliable, being complicated by false negatives. Due to the serious nature of the disease and lack of effective treatment, not only would monkeys testing positive for TB be killed, but also likely those others who reside in the same facility. If monkeys have been moved between facilities, this compounds the problem. Action for Primates, PeTA, Abolición Vivisección and One Voice are calling on the Mauritius government to stop exports of macaques and to governmental agencies in the US, UK, Spain and France to ban monkey imports from Mauritius.

Mauritius is one of the largest exporters of long-tailed macaques, including many captured from the wild. In 2022, almost 12,000 were sent overseas to suffer and die in laboratories in the US and Europe. In just one month already in 2023 – February – Mauritius exported 1,821 monkeys, with 1,306 going to the US.

Within just the past six months, hundreds of monkeys were seized by authorities in Mauritius after they were allegedly illegally captured; several US primate importers are under US federal investigation over questions about the origin of imported monkeys; long-tailed macaques are on the brink of extinction; and Cambodian officials and nationals have been indicted for alleged monkey trafficking.

There is only one solution to the situation. In the interests of public safety and compassion towards the monkeys, the international trade in non-human primates for laboratory use must end.

21 April 2023: Animal groups unite to urge Mauritius Prime Minister to release 446 confiscated monkeys

Long-tailed macaque living freely in Mauritius
Long-tailed macaque living freely, Mauritius

Animal Protection groups from the US, India and across Europe have joined Action for Primates in appealing to the Prime Minister of Mauritius to release the 446 long-tailed macaques who were confiscated by the authorities in March 2023, following the uncovering of an illegal trade in monkeys for the global research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. The organisations include PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the world's largest animal organisation, with more than 9 million supporters, and Wildlife SOS in India, one of the largest wildlife organisations in SE Asia. Together with groups across Europe – One Voice (France), LAV (Italy), ADDA and Abolición Vivisección (Spain) and Doctors Against Animal Experiments (Germany) – they are asking for compassion to be shown to these macaques by returning them to the wild where they can reunite with their families.

The monkeys, who are reportedly being held at the Biosphere Trading facility, one of Mauritius's six primate export companies, face an uncertain future after being seized from appalling conditions in disused buildings in Jin Fei. There have been disturbing reports that the individual responsible for the capture and captivity of the 446 monkeys, has submitted a formal notice to the Ministry of Agro-industry and is trying to have the animals returned to him, in what could become a tug-of-war with the monkeys suffering in the middle. There are concerns that, after everything the monkeys have been through and suffered following their forced removal from their habitat and family and social groups, they could end up being returned to the person from whom they were confiscated, or be handed over to one of the macaque supply or export companies in Mauritius, to be used for breeding or exported directly to laboratories. We are also calling for information to be released on the current situation and housing of these 446 macaques, urging the authorities to allow a visit by a representative from an animal welfare group to the facility.

Sarah Kite, co-founder, Action for Primates: There is widespread global concern over the capture of wild monkeys, especially because of the cruelty and suffering caused by the forced removal of the animals from their natural habitat and family groups. Yet, in Mauritius, this inhumane practice continues and wild monkeys are captured for export to laboratories as well as for breeding facilities. These 446 long-tailed macaques have already suffered enough, and we appeal to the Prime Minister to order their release back to the wild where they belong.

Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, primatologist at PeTA, stated: More than 28,000 ( PeTA supporters have contacted authorities in Mauritius, asking that an immediate, thorough and transparent investigation be conducted and that a representative of an animal protection group be allowed to assess the condition of these endangered long-tailed macaques. Allowing any individual or company to illegally abduct long-tailed macaques from their forest homes brings us one step closer to eradicating this entire species from the planet.

Muriel Arnal, president of One Voice: These 446 macaques saved from illegal trafficking must be released, and not sent to another farm specializing in animal experimentation in Mauritius, even if it were legal! Long-tailed macaques are endangered on the IUCN Red List. They must be allowed to return, free, to nature, and not be used as materials for laboratories in Europe, where more than a million European citizens have asked for these cruel methods to be stopped (ICE Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics), and where 74% of French people declare themselves in favor of a ban on animal experimentation (IPSOS/One Voice poll of April 2023).

The trade in long-tailed macaques in Mauritius has expanded in recent years, including an alarming revival in monkeys captured in the wild to be exported to non-human primate processing companies and laboratories in the US. Mauritius exported almost 12,000 macaques in 2022, including over 7,000 to the US, and almost 2,500 to Spain which has now become Europe's main importer of macaques from Mauritius. Most of the macaques exported to the US and Europe are destined to be used in controversial toxicity (poisoning) tests, one of the cruellest areas of animal testing and one that involves substantial suffering as monkeys are dosed with various drugs or chemicals to see if they cause illness. Monkeys surviving such tests are usually killed for further study.

Mauritius prides itself on being a paradise holiday destination, yet the appalling suffering that is inflicted upon our non-human primate cousins is at odds with what is presented in the glossy holiday brochures. The international reputation of Mauritius continues to be tarnished by its role in in the brutal global trade trade in monkeys' lives.

PeTA (US):; Wildlife SOS (India):; One Voice (France):; LAV (Italy):; ADDA (Spain):; Abolición Vivisección:; Doctors Against Animal Experiments (Germany):

12 April 2023: Concern for monkeys kept as 'pets' in Cambodia

'Pet' macaque abandoned at Angkor Wat
'Pet' macaque abandoned at Angkor Wat

Action for Primates, Lady Freethinker and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia are extremely concerned to learn that four monkeys kept illegally as 'pets' in Cambodia, who were confiscated from a private household by the authorities in 2022, have reportedly been returned to the household eight months later. We are very disappointed this has happened, despite legislation that makes the private ownership of native wild animals in a residential home illegal, and we fear this may signal a relaxing of the current law.* By returning these four confiscated monkeys, the authorities are sending the wrong message – that keeping wild monkeys as 'pets' is acceptable, and that no action will be taken against anyone who does. We believe this will only encourage people to continue to steal wild baby monkeys from their mothers in the forests of Cambodia. It will also negatively impact wild populations of long-tailed macaques, the main non-human primate species kept as 'pets' and one whose conservation status was recently increased to Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

This lack of enforcement by the wildlife authorities will also encourage the irresponsible and dangerous trend in people abandoning 'pet' macaques at Angkor Wat, the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Siem Reap. These macaques, raised in human households and heavily dependent upon people, are being abandoned into the existing wild population at Angkor Wat, primarily to create a 'drama' or conflict situation by video operators to film for content to post on social media for 'Likes' and 'Views' on channels that are often monetised (;

Macaque kept as 'pet' and abused, Cambodia; YouTube
Macaque kept as 'pet', abused, Cambodia

The keeping of baby 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. These vulnerable infants, held captive under unnatural conditions, denied the protection of their mothers and family groups as well as their freedom, are paraded in front of the cameras, dressed in human baby clothes for 'Likes' and 'Views' on social media platforms that are often monetised. These helpless infants are often deliberately placed into frightening and distressing situations from which they cannot escape, and their stress, fear and terror are filmed for the online 'entertainment. The cruelty, torment and harm these baby monkeys are subjected to is heartbreaking and the lack of action by the Cambodian authorities and social media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, is shocking (;

Lady Freethinker, Action for Primates and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia urge Cambodian officials to enforce the legislation against the keeping of monkeys in private homes and to 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.

Cambodia wildlife legislation (Forestry Law (2002)) states that the private ownership of native wild animals in a residential home is illegal. Article 50:
"It is prohibited to commit the following activities against common wildlife species, except by a permit issued by the Forestry Administration: 1) Stock or maintain as a zoo or in a family house;"

5 April 2023: EU must live up to promise to dissociate itself from the wild-caught primate trade

Long-tailed macaques in intravenous toxicity test in German laboratory; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques, IV toxicity test in German lab
credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

Action for Primates is extremely disappointed by the conclusion of a study that a move to sourcing non-human primates only from self-sustaining colonies for use in research and toxicity (poisoning) testing in EU laboratories is unlikely to be achievable in the foreseeable future. This study is likely to lead the way for non-human primates to continue to be imported from companies that abduct these individuals from the wild. The Feasibility study was carried out under Article 10 of Directive 2010/63/EU, and is contrary to what was expected from the revision of the Directive, in which provisions were introduced with the objective of phasing out the capture of animals from the wild, including for purposes of breeding. The original Directive recognised that:

The capture of non-human primates from the wild is highly stressful for the animals concerned and carries an elevated risk of injury and suffering during capture and transport. In order to end the capturing of animals from the wild for breeding purposes, only animals that are the offspring of an animal which has been bred in captivity, or that are sourced from self-sustaining colonies, should be used in procedures after an appropriate transition period. A feasibility study should be carried out to that effect and the transition period adopted if necessary. The feasibility of moving towards sourcing non-human primates only from self-sustaining colonies as an ultimate goal should also be examined. (EU 2010)

The wild-caught trade in non-human primates for research and toxicity testing is a practice widely condemned for its cruelty and suffering (IPS 2021). A feasibility study was carried out in 2017 (CIRCABC 2017). From this, a requirement was proposed for Member States to use only non-human primates who are the offspring of animals who themselves had been bred in captivity, or who are sourced from self-sustaining colonies. This was expected to be introduced in November 2022.

The results of a second feasibility study have now been published with the following conclusion:

At this time, it is not possible to determine if or whether the aspiration of sourcing from self-sustaining colonies will be achieved in the future, but with the recent changes in usage, availability, demand and breeding practices in some centres, it is unlikely to be achieved for all commonly used non-human primate species in the foreseeable future. (CIRCABC 2022)

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, veterinarian and Action for Primates spokesperson, responded to this conclusion:

The failure to require that non-human primates are only sourced from self-sustaining colonies would be a major setback for animal welfare, morality and public safety due to the increased risk of zoonotic disease. The trade in wild-caught non-human primates is a practice that is universally acknowledged to be cruel, subjecting the individuals to substantial suffering and distress, as well as further compromising the already contentious issue of scientific credibility of research using these individuals. Non-human primates are highly social animals and trapping and removing them from their habitats, families and social groups, constitutes particularly inhumane and brutal treatment. It also results in injuries and death during capture. The individuals taken will forever be prevented from contributing to biodiversity, the local ecosystem or the genetic richness of the species. By allowing the continued importation of non-human primates from non self-sustaining colonies, including the offspring of wild-caught individuals to be used in laboratories, the EU would be enabling this cruel and immoral practice to continue.

Of greatest concern are the important moral and welfare considerations regarding the use of non-human primates in research and toxicity (poisoning) testing. There is an increasing awareness and acceptance that the substantial cognitive abilities and social behaviour and needs of most non-human primate species makes it likely that they will suffer substantially by being experimented upon in captivity. Experts in the field have proposed that we no longer use these species in research that is invasive (Padrell et al 2021, which is the bulk of the research and testing being done currently. The research industry itself professes to be concerned and claims that these species are only used in life-saving research and that ending a reliance on them should be the goal. Yet, the feasibility study did not appear to take any of this important information into consideration. Allowing a continued reliance on the wild-caught trade is at odds with the internationally established principles of replacement, reduction and refinement (NC3Rs). A requirement to use only captive bred non-human primates is still fraught with moral and welfare problems, but it would be a start on the responsible road to eliminate their use entirely.

The International Primatological Society recognises that trade in live primates, both legal and illegal, is a major threat to nonhuman primate conservation ... 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. (IPS 2021)

The main non-human primates species used in EU laboratories is the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis). This species accounted for 88% of non-human primates used in 2020, per the latest data available. Individuals are imported from Mauritius and Vietnam. The commercial trade in capturing wild long-tailed macaques for breeding and export has recently resumed in Mauritius. According to data reported to CITES, 5,499 long-tailed macaques were imported into the EU during 2020 (CITES Trade Database).

In 2022, the long-tailed macaque was assessed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN assessment was based on the current degree of exploitation of the species, driven in particular by the global trade in long-tailed macaques for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing. (Hansen et al 2022)


20 March 2023: Researchers from Europe and Canada involved in deadly baboon experiment in Kenya

Olive baboon mother and infant in research laboratory cage, IPR, Kenya; photo credit Cruelty Free International
Olive baboon mother & infant, IPR, Kenya
credit Cruelty Free International

Researchers from the Netherlands (Maastricht University), Belgium (Leuven University) and Canada (Université Laval and CHU de Québec Research Center) collaborated in this research which involved the killing of fifteen baboons. The experiment took place at the Institute of Primate Research (IPR) in Nairobi, Kenya (Poirier et al 2022). The project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health (grant number PJT-153 184), but reviewed by the Institutional Review Committee and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the IPR. The Canadian researchers declared a competing interest having ownership interest in a patent for 17β-HSD inhibitors, one of the test treatments. In this study, experimental endometriosis was caused in baboons, as a model for the condition seen in women, prior to the test treatment being used in clinical trials. The IPR has previously used baboons as surrogates in human reproduction research, including that involving inducing endometriosis. Endometriosis is a very painful condition caused by the presence of endometrial (uterine) tissues in the peritoneal cavity (a membrane that lines the inside of the abdomen and pelvis). Also tested was the effect of an irreversible inhibitor (a molecule named PBRM) on endometrial tissue obtained at the Maastricht University Medical Centre from female human patients with endometriosis.

Action for Primates has joined with Animal Rights in condemning this deadly experiment, as well as seeking clarification on whether wild-caught baboons were used. There was no mention about the source or age of the baboons. Historically, the IPR has captured wild baboons to use in its laboratories. A statement that appeared in an earlier paper from the IPR suggests why no age was provided for the baboons used in the current work: It should be noted that the baboons used for research at IPR are trapped from the wild and therefore it is difficult to determine their exact age. (Nyachieo et al 2011). Regardless of the source, however, there was also no mention of the conditions under which these fifteen individuals were kept.

Fifteen adult female olive baboons (Papio anubis), weighing 12-16 kg and maintained in captivity at IPR, were used to create endometriosis artificially. Although the precise methods used – including whether anaesthesia was used – were not mentioned in the article, it was clear that portions of each baboon's uterus tissue (endometrium) were excised and then injected back into the same baboon's abdominal cavity. The baboons were also subjected to multiple episodes of laparoscopy (examination of the abdominal cavity using an endoscope), once again without any mention of anaesthesia or sedation. The treatment was given orally by gavage (the use of a tube forced down the throat into the stomach), six days a week, once again without any mention of anaesthesia or sedation. The study lasted five months, after which time all the baboons were killed. The biochemical findings were not substantially different from those in the human part of the experiment.

Three other adult female olive baboons were also used to evaluate the distribution of the test substance and to see if it was toxic. The latter was claimed not to be the case.

The work on baboons represented the first such study that has taken place, and it is disturbing that the authors argued for a second study to take place.

Action for Primates has previously reported on disturbing womb transplantation research involving baboons by the IPR, which caused substantial suffering and in which three of the individuals died immediately after surgery (Baboons used as both donor and recipient in disturbing womb transplantation research).

Action for Primates believes that abducting baboons from their homes and then using them in 'research' can never be justified. The human species is intelligent and resourceful enough so that other humane and human-relevant ways of providing the kind of information desired to improve human welfare and well-being can be obtained without having to purposefully cause immense suffering, misery and death in others.


  1. Nyachieo, Atunga; Spiessens, Carl; Chai, Daniel C.; Debrock, Sophie; Mwenda, Jason M. and d'Hooghe, Thomas M. 2011-03-15 "Randomized comparison of different ovarian stimulation regimens for assisted reproductive technology in baboons (Papio anubis)" Fertility and Sterility 95(4):1354-1359
  2. Poirier, Donald; Nyachieo, Atunga; Romano, Andrea; Roy, Jenny; Maltais, René; Chai, Daniel; Delvoux, Bert; Tomassetti, Carla and Vanhie, Arne 2022-09-22 "An irreversible inhibitor of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 inhibits estradiol synthesis in human endometriosis lesions and induces regression of the non-human primate endometriosis" The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 222:106136

24 February 2023: Charles River Laboratories receives subpoena over macaque supply

Long-tailed macaques, supply facility, Cambodia; credit: Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaques, supply facility, Cambodia
credit: Cruelty Free International

Charles River Laboratories (CRL), the global contract testing company, has received a subpoena from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with an investigation into the supply of non-human primates from Cambodia for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing. Shares in CRL dropped following this announcement. The company also stated that it had voluntarily suspended shipments of long-tailed macaques from Cambodia.

In November 2022, indictments were filed against Cambodian wildlife officials and the owner and staff at one macaque supply company – Vanny Bio Research (Cambodia) Corporation Ltd – in relation to illegally importing long-tailed macaques into the US. The charges were made following a major investigation by the US authorities into the global trafficking of long-tailed macaques into the US. The DOJ alleged that the individuals involved are part of an international primate smuggling ring selling wild-caught macaques falsely stated to be captive bred at Cambodian facilities for export to the US and elsewhere, and who provided falsified CITES export permits.

In 2022, Orient BioResource Center and Envigo Global Services received subpoenas from the US Attorney's Office in Florida, requiring they produce documents and information relating to the import of non-human primates into the US. Both companies, acquired by Inotiv in 2021, were regular importers of long-tailed macaques from Cambodia. Inotiv has also announced a suspension of macaque imports from Cambodia.

Action for Primates has been raising concerns about the inhumanity and suffering inflicted by the global trade upon long-tailed macaques – the plundering of wild populations, their captivity and air transportation as cargo, as well as questioning the validity of captive breeding claims. The rapid development and expansion of long-tailed macaque farms focused within South East Asia, in particular in Cambodia, has resulted in an industrialised scale enterprise, with hundreds of thousands of macaques exported in recent years.