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.

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.