Action for Primates

Long-tailed macaques, photo by Sarah Kite
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Take Action on Behalf of Non-human Primates 2023

The following are take action items we have posted in 2023. See elsewhere for take action alerts from other 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.

Index of action alerts; select date & title to access:

4 June 2023: Join call to Bluebird Nordic to stop transporting monkeys

Long-tailed macaques in cargo crates
Long-tailed macaques in cargo crates

On 3rd June 2023, Bluebird Nordic, a cargo airline based in Reykjavík, Iceland, transported hundreds of long-tailed macaques as cargo from Cambodia to Montreal, Canada. The monkeys were subjected to a gruelling ordeal of almost 30 hours – involving four flights with three stop-overs in Delhi, Tbilisi and Reykjavik – imprisoned singly in small transit crates, before Flight BO303 landed at Montréal–Mirabel International Airport. Although the transportation of these sentient and intelligent beings is exceptionally brutal and inhumane, the fate that awaits these individuals is far worse: they will suffer and die or be killed in laboratories, thousands of miles from their homes and families. Bluebird Nordic is the latest airline to become involved in this cruel business.

The conservation status of the long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) has been recently increased to Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 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.

Action for Primates, together with Abolición Vivisección and One Voice in Europe and PeTA in the US, are calling on Bluebird Nordic to end their involvement in the brutal global trade in monkeys for research and testing, and to join the growing number of airlines, including many of the world's largest, that have stopped transporting monkeys to laboratories.

Please take action for these monkeys, and join our call to Bluebird Nordic to stop transporting monkeys:

31 May 2023: Infant monkeys, deprived of mothers, used in disturbing blue light research in US

Infant rhesus macaque in laboratory cage; photo credit Cruelty Free International/SOKO_Tierschutz
Infant rhesus macaque, laboratory cage
Cruelty Free International/SOKO_Tierschutz

Fifteen infant rhesus macaques were removed from their mothers within a few weeks of being born at an undisclosed location and sent to be used for a research project at the University of Houston (Lou et al 2023). The premise of the research was purported to be concern over what effects on the human retina there might be from blue light from artificial light sources, such as the use of LEDs in domestic lighting and electronic devices, including laptop, tablets and smartphones.

The work was financially supported by public funds through grants EY003611 and EY007551, each comprising several millions of US dollars, from the National Eye Institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. Additional funding was also provided by the Brien Holden Vision Institute (Australia). The project was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the University of Houston. The authors stated that the manner in which they treated the infants conformed with the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology statement on the use of non-human animals in research. That document states that animals should be treated humanely and that the potential benefits to human and animal health outweigh the cost in animal lives. Action for Primates believes that this project not only represents extreme inhumane treatment of animals, but also fails with respect to benefits to anyone.

The infants were divided into two groups who were exposed to 12 hours a day of either blue light (seven infants) or white light (eight infants) over a 10-month period. The infants were forced to continuously wear a helmet for about 143 days. This helmet would have been alien to the infants, bulky and uncomfortable. It held a lens system, like spectacles, that was in front of the eyes and which altered the quality of vision.

Contrary to good practice and the standard in scientific publications, the authors did not describe the housing system, other than to state cages were used. There was no mention of any enrichment provided to the infants (the only enrichment of meaning to infants a few weeks old would have been the comfort of their mothers, something conspicuously denied them). It is, however, likely that each infant was kept by her or himself in a cage without direct contact with anyone else. If the infants were not housed singly, it is likely they would have interfered with each other's helmets.

At about 330 days, the infants were anaesthetised and an attempt was made to obtain recordings made from each eye. In some cases, some monkeys began to wake up before left eye recordings were completed, making data acquisition incomplete. These recordings were compared with those made from a different group of juvenile individuals.

One can only imagine the despair and psychological trauma these infants endured, scared and without their mothers, in frightening conditions. No information was provided as to the ultimate fate of the infants, although it is certain that they will face a lifetime of continued use as research 'subjects' and die or be killed at some point. They will never get to be with their mothers again, and never get to experience a normal life in freedom. Sad experience shows that these infants will also be emotionally scarred, perhaps for life, due to the effects of being deprived of their mothers. Given the social structure of most non-human primate species, subjecting the young of these individuals to maternal deprivation results in severe compromise of their welfare and well-being, including death.

Used as mere 'tools' to get the information desired, not only were the conditions to which these infants were subjected completely unnatural, there is no evidence that the information gained will be of any use to humans. The authors stated at the outset that there is no evidence that blue light at normal indoor levels damages the human retina. They even provided evidence to this effect by citing a study of the effects of blue light on the human retina (O'Hagan et al 2016), in which no negative effects were demonstrated. Furthermore, the authors used the accepted American National Standard guidelines for safe human exposure in designing this experiment. Even if one set aside the immorality of doing such research on non-consenting beings – the infant rhesus macaques – it appears that the information needed to 'protect' humans was already widely known. As such, the authors' conclusion that long-term rearing in blue light does not affect ERG responses in young rhesus monkeys is of no use to understanding human retinal function.

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. This shameful experiment, which resulted in substantial suffering for the monkeys – and which might be life-long – demonstrates 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 differences between the two species, humane and ethical clinical studies have been and can continue to be done on human patients and volunteers in order to get data that are directly applicable to people. The infant macaques in this study had to endure the stress of captivity, maternal deprivation and virtual social isolation, clearly contrary to the Replacement criterion for the 3Rs.

Please let those responsible for this extremely inhumane research know of your concerns:

Research cited:

Lou, Linjiang; Frishman, Laura J.; Beach, Krista M.; Rajagopalan, Lakshmi; Hung, Li-Fang; She, Zhihui; Smith, Earl L. and Ostrin, Lisa A. 2023-03-30 "Long-term blue light rearing does not affect in vivo retinal function in young rhesus monkeys" Documenta Ophthalmologica

24 May 2023: Urgent appeal to Hi Fly Malta to stop cruel monkey flights

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

Action for Primates has been alerted to a new airline involved in the transportation of non-human primates for the global research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. A concerned airport worker has reported that in early May 2023, Hi Fly Malta transported hundreds of long-tailed macaques from Cambodia to Canada. Violently removed from their families and social groups, these intelligent and sentient individuals had to endure the trauma of a frightening and unfamiliar environment, as they were shipped thousands of kilometres across the world. Hi Fly Malta is a Maltese charter airline, and a subsidiary of the Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly. Action for Primates has joined forces with PeTA, One Voice and Abolición Vivisección in an appeal to Hi Fly to end its involvement in these flights of misery. A letter raising our concerns sent to Mr Paulo Mirpuri, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hi Fly, has so far gone unanswered.

Hi Fly United for Wildlife
Image from Hi Fly Twitter

Hi Fly has made bold statements in support of wildlife conservation and its efforts to combat wildlife trafficking. The conservation status, however, of the primate species Hi Fly is transporting – long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) – has been assessed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 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 for research and testing, 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.

Following widespread global public concern and opposition, a growing number of airlines, including many of the world's largest, have stopped transporting monkeys to laboratories. Public opposition to experiments using non-human primates is growing around the world. Such opposition is also being expressed by a growing number of scientists. We hope Hi Fly will align its actions and policies with those of other major airline companies, as well as its highly publicised ethical principles, by stopping its practice of transporting monkeys to laboratories.

Please take action for these monkeys, and join our call to Hi Fly to stop transporting monkeys:

22 May 2023: Legislation to ban use of non-human primates in entertainment introduced in New York

Panamanian white faced capuchin in captivity
Panamanian white faced capuchin in captivity

Action for Primates is grateful that New York, US, is now considering legislation, introduced by Sen James Skoufis (D-New Windsor), to ban the use of non-human primates in 'entertainment acts' at carnivals and fairs, such as 'banana races', during which capuchins are tied onto the backs of dogs racing around a track. If passed, this would be consistent with all reputable non-human primate and veterinary medical organisations, none of which support using these individuals in any entertainment venues.

Not only is using non-human primates in 'entertainment' incredibly cruel, it also represents a serious public health risk, from transmission of infectious diseases to serious bodily injury from attacks by the confused and abused primates. This practice should be banned universally and we hope New York will do the right thing and pass this legislation.

New York residents, please write to your legislators and ask them to support and co-sponsor Sen Skoufis' bill:

17 May 2023: Rhesus macaques subjected to lethal radiation and allowed to die

Rhesus macaque in laboratory cage, neck collar; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Rhesus macaque with neck collar in cage
credit SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

In this incredibly inhumane experiment, 36 female and male rhesus macaques were subjected to whole body irradiation that was known to be lethal (Singh et al 2022). The work was done by Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences researchers at the University of Maryland Baltimore. It was approved by animal use committees at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, University of Maryland Baltimore and Department of Defense, and supported by public funds through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (grant AAI12044-001-07000).

The macaques were anaesthetised and exposed to six different doses of total-body irradiation. Although some medical management was done, the authors stated The animals were observed for 60 days postirradiation to score survivors. (emphasis added) During this period, each macaque was restrained using the inhumane pole-and-collar method and placed into what was euphemistically termed a chair in order to collect blood. By being housed singly in stainless steel cages, they were not even allowed the meaningful social enrichment that is critical to non-human primate welfare and well-being. If a macaque became moribund (down and unresponsive), he or she was euthanized. But, as the authors pointed out, The primary endpoint was mortality since the objective of this study was to determine the lethality of the radiation. The degree of illness and suffering endured by the macaques was substantial and included:

Even though many of these conditions are severe and constitute extreme compromise of welfare and well-being, an individual macaque had to be experiencing more than one of these before the researchers even discussed whether the individual's suffering should be ended. Instead, the macaques were allowed to suffer until they either developed other conditions in the list or died.

The authors stated that This study was carried out in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.... Furthermore, the University of Maryland claims that it ensures humane care of the non-human animals under its care (UMD Baltimore 2023). Given the extreme degree of suffering imposed upon the macaques under its care, the use of the word humane is meaningless.

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. This shameful experiment, which resulted in substantial suffering and death for the macaques, demonstrates the meaningless nature of such assurances and a lack of commitment to stop using non-human primates. Furthermore, the results of this research cannot be uncritically applied to the human situation and we already have substantial data from unintended human exposure (CDC 2018) and can continue to obtain data from accidental exposures.

What you can do to help end such inhumane research:


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2018-04-04 "Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS)"
  2. Singh, Vijay K.; Fatanmi, Oluseyi O.; Wise, Stephen Y.; Carpenter, Alana D. and Olsen, Cara H. 2022-12-01 "Determination of Lethality Curve for Cobalt-60 Gamma-Radiation Source in Rhesus Macaques Using Subject-Based Supportive Care" Radiation Research 198(6):599-614
  3. University of Maryland Baltimore 2023 "Animal Welfare Assurance"

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.

The use of the word euthanized is a misnomer in this context. Euthanasia is not simply ending a life for humane reasons, generally with the consent of the individual. Fundamental to this is that the individual ending the life is not also the one who caused the situation in the first place. To claim you are 'euthanising' someone after your treatment of them caused them to be so ill that death is the only humane option, is morally bankrupt.

9 May 2023: Call on Malaysia to act against torture of baby monkeys for online 'entertainment'

Long-tailed macaques, mother and child, Malaysia; photo credit Attila Jandi on Dreamstime
Long-tailed macaques, mother & child, Malaysia
credit Attila Jandi on Dreamstime

Lady Freethinker and Action for Primates have written to the Attorney General in Malaysia, appealing to him to reconsider a decision not to take action over the horrific torture and killing of baby monkeys on camera for online 'entertainment'. Footage of the cruelty filmed in Malaysia includes some of the most horrifying and sadistic abuse that has been posted on private platforms, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook. Lady Freethinker and Action for Primates have been investigating the active and vocal monkey hatred community on private online groups and social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.

Action for Primates and Lady Freethinker are working with Lawyers for Animal Rights and Pertubuhan Hak Asasi Hidupan Liar Malaysia (Hidup). In January 2023, Hidup filed a report with the police. This dossier of information included harrowing evidence against an individual in Malaysia identified as being responsible for making videos of himself while he tortured and killed baby monkeys to distribute online in "monkey torture groups". The monkeys being abused were long-tailed macaques, captured from the wild, a native non-human primate species protected according to the Malaysian Wildlife Conservation Act of 2010. Despite the evidence, the report was classified as "No Further Action (NFA)" by the public prosecutor. This decision must be challenged and those responsible for such cruelty must be held to account. We believe strongly that this will act as an important deterrent to others taking part in such appalling behaviour.

Please join Lady Freethinker and Action for Primates in calling upon the authorities to reconsider this alarming decision:

27 April 2023: Wild-caught monkeys on St Kitts cruelly subjected to spinal cord injuries causing leg paralysis

African green monkey living freely on St. Kitts & Nevis; photo credit Glenroy Blanchette
African green monkey, St. Kitts & Nevis
credit Glenroy Blanchette

African green monkeys (Chlorocebus sabaeus, also known as vervets) have lived freely in the popular Caribbean holiday destination of St. Kitts and Nevis for hundreds of years. Tragically, many of them are exported for research and testing, primarily to the US, including those who have been captured from the wild. Between 2020-2021, St. Kitts and Nevis reported exporting 1,477 individuals, the majority of whom (1,126) were wild caught and sent to the US, although some were also imported by France (CITES Trade Database).

In addition to being exported, African green monkeys are also captured from the wild to suffer and die in research taking place on St. Kitts itself. In one such recently published cruel experiment, carried out at the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation and translational research affiliate Virscio, African green monkeys were subjected to very invasive and destructive spinal cord surgery, and suffered greatly as a result, including from pain, loss of leg function and pressure sores (Jacobson et al 2021). At least 21 individuals died or were killed before the end of the experiment due to serious problems such as brain swelling during surgery, failure of the surgery, unintended damage to the spinal cord during surgery (but not evident until after recovery from surgery), pressure sores, unintended functional deficits of the leg and septic shock. All surviving individuals were killed for microscopic study.

According to the authors, the research was carried out in accordance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the facility. Funding was through AbbVie, a pharmaceutical research and development company. Many of the authors were paid employees or paid consultants of the company and may own AbbVie stock. The authors were from the US, Canada, Germany and Switzerland.

African green monkey in cage; photo credit Cruelty Free International
African green monkey in cage
credit Cruelty Free International

It appears that at least 88 wild African green monkeys were abducted from their homes on St. Kitts for this inhumane research project. They were estimated to be 4-10 years of age and were conveniently dismissed by the authors as an invasive species as though that would somehow justify their use and make criticism of the work unlikely. Adding to the extreme cruelty of being captured from the wild, all the monkeys were housed singly, without any meaningful social contact which they had enjoyed moments before being trapped.

Under anaesthesia, laminectomy (surgery in which part or all of the vertebral bone is removed) was carried out, involving a skin incision followed by exposure of the monkeys' spinal column, then cutting away part of the vertebra. An infusion apparatus was implanted intrathecally (into the cerebrospinal fluid space). Access to this apparatus was through a port under the skin of each monkey's back. Another laminectomy was done some time later at a different site and the spinal cord was sliced through vertically and a clip was implanted to later provide compression of the spinal cord. A test drug, Elezanumab – a human anti-RGMa monoclonal antibody – was given intravenously to some of the monkeys.

The surviving monkeys had to walk on a treadmill to assess locomotor function while recordings were made. They were held inside a enclosed treadmill chamber and forced to walk for up to 20 minutes, with different degrees of spinal cord impairment, on the treadmill which was brought from a stop to 1.5 - 3 mph speeds (slow and fast walking speeds). The test drug was used to see the effects on this. This research went on for at least six months.

As is typical for researchers, sanitised and misleading language was used in the published work. Euphemistic terms such as animal recruitment and enrollment in studies made it sound like the monkeys somehow applied for the role or were similar to human subjects in other research. Such language attempts to mask the full horror of what the monkeys were subjected to and what they experienced. It also ignores the fact that the monkeys were unwilling and non-consenting whereas these principles underpin the core of research using human volunteers.

What you can do to help:


  1. CITES 2022 "CITES Trade Database" CITES accessed 2023-04-02
  2. Jacobson, Peer B.; Goody, Robin; Lawrence, Matthew; Mueller, Bernhard K.; Zhang, Xiaomeng; Hooker, Bradley A.; Pfleeger, Kimberly; Ziemann, Adam; Locke, Charles; Barraud, Quentin; Droescher, Mathias; Bernhard, Joerg; Popp, Andreas; Boeser, Preethne; Huang, Lili; Mollon, Jennifer; Mordashova, Yulia; Cui, Yi-Fang; Savaryn, John P.; Grinnell, Christine; Dreher, Ingeborg; Gold, Michael; Courtine, Grégoire; Mothe, Andrea; Tator, Charles H. and Guest, James D. 2021-07-01 "Elezanumab, a human anti-RGMa monoclonal antibody, promotes neuroprotection, neuroplasticity, and neurorecovery following a thoracic hemicompression spinal cord injury in non-human primates" Neurobiology of Disease 155:105385

17 April 2023: Urge Sri Lanka to not export 100,000 monkeys to China

Mother toque macaques with babies, living freely in Sri Lanka; photo credit Erwin Vermeulen/Animal Rights
Mother toque macaques, babies, Sri Lanka
credit Erwin Vermeulen/Animal Rights

There has been widespread alarm amongst animal protection and wildlife groups, including Action for Primates, following the announcement that Sri Lanka is considering exporting 100,000 toque macaques to China. According to news media reports, China has made a request for the macaques allegedly for 'display' in its Zoos! It is suspected, however, that the purpose for the export is more sinister, and that China wants to either use the monkeys for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing or kill them for human consumption. Regardless of the true reasons for the request, the macaques would be sent to a country in which animal welfare standards are poor with appalling conditions and disturbing treatment of animals.

Wildlife and environment groups in Sri Lanka have spoken out against the proposal to export the country's indigenous macaques, and include Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS), Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ), Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO) and Rally for Animal Rights and Environment (RARE).

Reportedly, Sri Lanka legislation would only allow export of the monkeys for conservation purposes. A special meeting, however, was held by officials from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture, the National Zoological Department and the Wildlife Department to discuss the request from China and it was agreed to set up a committee to study the legal aspects of the situation. It has been alleged that Sri Lanka is considering this request because the country is suffering a financial crisis, and China is one of Sri Lanka's biggest bilateral lenders.

Mother toque macaque with her baby in Sri Lanka; photo credit Senthi Aathavan Senthilverl
Mother toque macaque & baby, Sri Lanka
credit Senthi Aathavan Senthilverl

Toque macaques (Macaca sinica), who are native to Sri Lanka, are assessed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, with a decreasing population trend. Threats to the species include habitat destruction, killing and persecution due to crop foraging and increasing human-wildlife negative interactions. Forests have been lost and fragmented, resulting in the shrinking of macaque habitat and human encroachment into areas originally occupied by monkeys. Despite concerns for the conservation status of the macaque, the species is not on the list of protected species in Sri Lanka. Critically, there has been no recent population surveys carried out, so there are no accurate data on the population of the macaques. According to the IUCN assessment: Towns, tourist and temple provides macaques access to human foods and this has developed into concentrations of conspicuous pest macaques at these sites. These sites are highly localized and do not represent macaque population numbers countywide.

Negative interactions between non-human primates and people are essentially always due to human activity. A major factor is human population growth and the expansion into and destruction and fragmentation of native habitat, forcing non-human primates to compete with people over land and resources. It is imperative that authorities do not resort to killing, but instead adopt humane and effective methods that can prevent or resolve problems.

Further information: Monkey Business: Sri Lanka To Export 100,000 Toque Macaque Monkeys To China: A Critical Review Of Implications.

Please join Action for Primates in speaking up for these monkeys. We must try to convince the Sri Lankan authorities that trapping and exporting the macaques is unacceptable and inhumane, and that any underlying reasons for considering this should be resolved in humane and effective ways.

What you can do to help:

15 April 2023: Call for US to add long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques to Endangered Species List

Long-tailed macaque mother and baby, Indonesia trapping; photo credit Action for Primates
Long-tailed macaque mother & baby
Indonesia trapping
credit Action for Primates

Action for Primates has joined PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in urging US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to immediately include long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Formal rulemaking petitions have been submitted by PeTA and supported by more than 30 wildlife and scientific organisations from around the world, including leading primatologists Dr Jane Goodall and Dr Birutė Galdikas.

The long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) and southern pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) have been elevated from Vulnerable to Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Both species are widely exploited and face multiple threats, including their trade for research and toxicity (poisoning) testing; hunting to be kept as 'pets', for human consumption and to be abused for 'entertainment' as online social media content; as well as their persecution and killing because of negative interactions with people. These, together with ongoing habitat destruction, are decimating wild populations of macaques.

Infant long-tailed macaque trapped in Indonesia; photo credit Pramudya Harzani
Long-tailed macaque trapped in Indonesia
credit Pramudya Harzani

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. Captured from the wild in SE Asia and Mauritius for breeding facilities or direct exportation, tens of thousands of macaques are shipped across the globe every year. Harrowing video footage released by Action for Primates recently revealed the shocking capture of wild long-tailed macaques in Indonesia. As the leading importer of long-tailed macaques, the US is a major player in this global trade, a trade which is having a devastating impact on the species and its wild populations. There has been a major investigation by the US authorities into the global trafficking of long-tailed macaques into the US for research and testing. As a result, charges were filed alleging that wild-caught long-tailed macaques imported by US companies were falsely stated to be captive bred at Cambodian facilities. This demonstrates and reaffirms the vulnerability of and threats faced by this non-human primate species by a multi-billion dollar industry.

The US animal experimentation industry's voracious demand has nearly emptied the forests of these keystone species, says PeTA primate scientist Dr Lisa Jones-Engel. PeTA urges the FWS to step up and protect these primates before we lose them completely.

The future of these intelligent non-human primates, who play 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 and ensure a future for long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques. Please join PeTA, Action for Primates and others in calling on the US Fish and Wildlife Service to include long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

What you can do to help:

31 March 2023: Rhesus macaques once again used in invasive cannabis research

Rhesus macaque in laboratory cage; photo credit SOKO Tierschutz and Cruelty Free International
Rhesus macaque in laboratory cage
credit SOKO Tierschutz & Cruelty Free International

Six male rhesus macaques who had previously been coerced into eating cannabis (THC or tetrahydrocannabinol – the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) every day to study the effects on reproductive health in men, have now been subjected to more procedures at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) (Hedges et al 2023). Not satisfied just with forcing these individuals to become chronic users of cannabis, the researchers discontinued the drug and subjected the macaques to numerous manipulations to see if stopping the drug had an effect on sperm. The macaques were subjected to repeated removal of blood, ultrasound of their testicles and electroejaculation while conscious. They also were anaesthetised repeatedly in order to cut into the testicles to get tissue. All this was once again approved by the Oregon National Primate Research Center Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and conformed to all applicable regulations.

The researchers reported that this the first study demonstrating that discontinuation of chronic THC use in rhesus macaques partially restores adverse impacts to male reproductive health.... They did not, however, demonstrate whether during earlier daily THC administration or after cessation of the drug, the macaques were capable of reproduction. Exploiting macaques in this way for what is primarily a recreational drug is morally reprehensible. Further, there is no way to know whether any of this information in the macaques has any relevance to male humans. But, there is no need to know this because cannabis use is widespread and has been so for many years and can easily – and humanely – be studied in people. We also know that common sense and physician advice is for people to discontinue all drug use if they are trying to conceive or when they become pregnant. The millions of dollars of public grant money received by these researchers could have been used to study human cannabis users and provide vital information to help them directly. Although there are already published studies on the effect of cannabis on human male reproductive health, the researchers argued that the information was complicated by small sample sizes, self-reporting, and co-use of other drugs. What they failed to acknowledge, however, is that that information is still more relevant to humans than is the macaque information and, in the real world, people do complicate the situation by taking other drugs. Such research involving people provides for a better understanding than the completely artificial situation of using rhesus macaques in a laboratory. It has been argued by other researchers that, in an attempt to so rigorously control conditions in the animal laboratory, the data derived may have no reliability to the intended population, people (Voelkl et al 2021).

The researchers did not state what happened to the macaques after this latest study was done. We suspect, however, that these macaques, and others, will continue to suffer in this area of research, continuing to be paid for by the US tax payer. The OHSU has stated that Ongoing research efforts will focus on the effects of chronic THC use over long periods of time and through various modes, such as vaping, as well as investigating the impacts of THC on fetal and offspring development. This bodes very badly for the rhesus macaques and their offspring.

Research institutions and those that give them public funds repeatedly claim that non-human primates are used 'sparingly' and only for 'life-saving' research, and that their use will be 'discontinued when it is feasible to do so'. This study shows once again that such assurances to the public are disingenuous at best.

What you can do to help stop this continuing, despicable and inhumane research:


  1. Hedges, Jason C.; Hanna, Carol B.; Shorey-Kendrick, Lyndsey E.; Boniface, Emily R.; Bash, Jasper C.; Rice-Stitt, Travis L.; Burch, Fernanda C.; D'Mello, Rahul; Morgan, Terry K.; Lima, Ana Cristina; Terrobias, Juanito Jose D.; Graham, Jason A.; Mishler, Emily C.; Jensen, Jared V.; Hagen, Olivia L.; Urian, J. Wes; Spindel, Eliot R.; Easley, Charles A.; Murphy, Susan K. and Lo, Jamie O. 2023-03-27 "Cessation of chronic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol use partially reverses impacts on male fertility and the sperm epigenome in rhesus macaques" Fertility and Sterility S0015-0282(23)00167-X
  2. Millions of dollars in tax money was 'awarded' to these researchers through the following grants: DA056493, HD000849, OD011092 and OD028223.
  3. Voelkl, Bernhard; Würbel, Hanno; Krzywinski, Martin and Altman, Naomi 2021-01-01 "The standardization fallacy" Nature Methods 18(1):5-7
  4. A popular notion about experiments is that it is beneficial to reduce subjects' biological and environmental variability to mitigate the influence of confounding factors on the response. The argument is that by keeping the levels of such factors fixed — a process called standardization — we increase precision by limiting the component of response variance that is not due to the experimental treatment. Unfortunately, although standardization increases power, it can also induce such unrealistically low variability that the results do not generalize to the population of interest and may thus be irreproducible — the so-called "standardization fallacy"...

21 March 2023: Take action for the monkeys in Mauritius

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

Action for Primates is concerned for the welfare and future of 440 long-tailed macaques who were recently seized by police and officers from the Ministry of Agro-Industry in Mauritius. According to news media reports, the monkeys were being illegally held in single cages in a building in Jin Fei. The authorities suspect that the monkeys, who were captured in the wild, are part of an illegal trafficking network. The director of a company who was arrested and then released on bail, stated that he had applied for a permit to export the monkeys and was waiting for a response from the ministry.

What you can do to help (for more information on the issue, see below):

Action for Primates is calling on the authorities to carry out an urgent investigation into those involved in the illegal capture and captivity of these monkeys, and for full transparency regarding the current situation and fate of these unfortunate individuals, including a visit by a representative from an animal welfare group to assess the situation. We also urge the authorities to show compassion and return these monkeys to the wild where they belong, rather than give them to companies where they will be used for breeding or exported to laboratories.

We hope that the widespread interest and shock over this case will help to raise awareness about the plight of long-tailed macaques in Mauritius, and the brutal trade in their lives for the global research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry which has expanded in recent years, with almost 12,000 individuals exported in 2022. The macaques are held captive in their thousands at several breeding and export companies, their offspring taken away to be sold to laboratories in the US and Europe. Disturbingly, in recent years, the commercial trade in capturing wild long-tailed macaques for breeding and export has resumed in Mauritius.

Trapping monkeys, Vallée-Pitot, Port Louis, Mauritius; courtesy Mr Seenath Abedeen
Trapping monkeys, Vallée-Pitot
credit Mr Seenath Abedeen

Wild monkeys in Mauritius 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. Treating sentient and intelligent beings this way is appalling. The trapping of wild monkeys is a practice that is universally condemned because it is cruel. It causes immense suffering, not only for those who are removed from their homes, but also for those family members and others left behind.

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, effectively placing a bounty on the monkeys' heads. Biosphere did not indicate what was to be done with unwanted individuals. Such an approach to the trapping of wild monkeys adds an additional level of inhumanity to the situation.

In 2022, concerned residents in Mauritius alerted Action for Primates and One Voice that monkeys were being trapped in several locations, including Vallée-Pitot in Port Louis. The trapping was being done for one of the companies that exports monkeys overseas to laboratories. Video footage showed a large gang cage into which unsuspecting monkeys were being lured by food and then trapped. The distressed monkeys, who can be heard crying out, were placed into small transit crates and loaded onto truck and driven away.

15 March 2023: Call to UK government to include animal cruelty content in Online Safety Bill

Infant long-tailed macaque with snake around neck, social media
Infant long-tailed macaque with snake
social media

Animal protection, wildlife and anti-trafficking organisations from the UK and across the globe, including Action for Primates, have joined forces to call on the UK government to bring animal cruelty content within the scope of the Online Safety Bill. Your help is urgently needed:

The UK Online Safety Bill establishes a new regulatory framework to increase accountability of online technology companies and protect users, especially children and vulnerable adults, from harmful online content. The important issue of animal cruelty content will be raised when the Bill goes through the committee stage in the House of Lords. An amendment tabled by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara would add offences under section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (unnecessary suffering) and offences under section 1 of the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, to the list of priority offences set out in schedule 7.

Such content involving animal abuse and cruelty, especially towards baby monkeys, is available on social media platforms, including Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. Videos posted show the deliberate infliction of pain and fear, causing physical harm as well as emotional distress. Even more disturbing is content in which baby monkeys are deliberately and gratuitously abused, tortured and killed for 'entertainment'. Its easy accessibility puts people, particularly children and other vulnerable groups, at risk and is likely to cause them considerable psychological damage and harm.

Widespread support comes from dozens of organisations, including the Wildlife and Countryside Link, the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, and the Asia for Animals Coalition (SMACC), who are urging members of the House of Lords to speak in favour of the Stevenson animal cruelty amendment at committee stage and to urge the Government to make this change to the Bill. By doing so, Ministers can address a substantial source of online harm to children and help uphold the UK's reputation as a world-leader in animal welfare.

Abused infant long-tailed macaque, social media
Abused infant long-tailed macaque
social media

Sarah Kite, co-founder of UK-based project, Action for Primates, stated: The posting of monkey torture videos on social media platforms depicting extreme violence inflicted upon baby monkeys is sickening. Self-regulation by the tech platforms is not working, and effective legislation is required to stop this harmful content. We are grateful to Lord Stevenson of Balmacara for tabling this amendment and urge the Government to include animal cruelty content within the scope of the UK's Online Safety Bill.

The fact that online animal cruelty content is easily available and accessible by children and other vulnerable groups has been demonstrated by several studies:

Evidence that demonstrates the risk to children and young adults of being adversely affected by exposure to animal abuse:

Examples of baby monkey abuse videos that have been posted on social media include:

Such acts of extreme cruelty and depravity are recorded and posted for the 'enjoyment' of viewers. Social media platforms are providing meeting places and an easy way for those people who enjoy watching monkey suffering to connect. The people leave vile and abusive comments encouraging more violence towards monkeys. Some post their contact details to private groups such as Telegram so that people can access additional abusive videos.

6 March 2023: Capuchins subjected to invasive surgery to study effects of chewing

Tufted capuchins living freely
Tufted capuchins living freely
public domain

Capuchins were subjected to multiple episodes of head surgery and food deprivation in publicly funded research at the University of Chicago in the US, for the sole purpose of determining the effect of feeding (jaw movements or chewing behaviour) on the points where the plates of the skull come together (called sagittal sutures) (Byron et al 2023). Researchers from several other universities were also involved, including Mercer University, Texas A&M University College of Dentistry, University of Illinois, University of Pennsylvania, University of the South, Washington University and University of Johannesburg.

The research was reviewed and approved by the University of Chicago's Institutional Care and Use Committee and was funded entirely using hundreds of thousands of public dollars through grants 0725147 and 0725183 from the National Science Foundation.

Two adult capuchins each from the genera Cebus and Sapajus were used (the authors could not identify the species). One was female, the other three were male. The source of the capuchins was not stated, but they had been used in previous research in which they had been trained to eat while restrained in a primate chair.

Panamanian white-faced capuchin living freely in Costa Rica; credit David M. Jensen (Storkk)
Panamanian white-faced capuchin, Costa Rica
credit David M. Jensen (Storkk)

Each capuchin was subjected to the following four times:

There was no attempt by the authors to couch this work as being invaluable in helping people. For the sake of pure intellectual curiosity, each of these four capuchins had to endure not only the suffering inherent in being held captive, but also the suffering involved in 'training' to force them to sit for long periods in a primate chair; four 24 hour periods during which they were deprived of food; eight episodes of anaesthesia and the considerable illness of recovery; and four episodes of invasive surgery to implant recording devices onto their skulls. Despite all this, the authors acknowledged what we believe have to be considered severe shortcomings of the work: The four individuals available for study did not constitute an ideal sample. Their precise species membership is unknown, and the sex balance was uneven (three males and one female) which also impacts the cranial phenotype variable.

The public are told repeatedly and at every opportunity that non-human primates are only used in research vital to understanding and helping humans. We are also told that researchers and funding agencies are working toward ending the use of non-human primates at some point in the (distant) future. This work with the capuchins is just one more example of the falsehoods of all these claims.

Please voice your objection to this continued abuse of non-human primates in the name of science:


  1. Byron, Craig; Reed, David; Iriarte-Diaz, Jose; Wang, Qian; Strait, David; Laird, Myra F. and Ross, Callum F. 2023-02-15 "Sagittal suture strain in capuchin monkeys (Sapajus and Cebus) during feeding" American Journal of Biological Anthropology

15 February 2023: Monkeys at Angkor Wat continue to be harassed for social media videos

Infant northern pig-tailed macaque held and screaming in fear at Angkor Wat, social media
Terrorised infant pig-tailed macaque
Angkor Wat, social media

Macaques at Angkor Wat are continuing to be harassed and persecuted by people who film them for views on social media, as highlighted in a new report (Monkey Harassment Continues in Angkor Wat) and video compilation (Monkey Abuse Continues in Angkor Wat) revealed by Action for Primates, Lady Freethinker and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia. The report and video reveal how monkeys are still being followed with cameras, interfered with, picked up and carried, forcibly separated from one another, and given food and cartons of milk.

Long-tailed macaque juvenile chained at Angkor Wat, social media
Long-tailed macaque, chained
Angkor Wat, social media

Action for Primates and Lady Freethinker, together with Stop Monkey Abuse Asia, have been campaigning for an end to the persecution, exploitation and abuse of monkeys at Angkor Wat, a popular tourist destination, UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to several troops of long-tailed and northern pig-tailed macaques. Following our investigation in 2022 and letters of concern to APSARA, National Authority in Cambodia and UNESCO, APSARA released a public announcement in October 2022. They acknowledged the negative impact that feeding of the monkeys was having on their welfare and public safety and urged people not to feed or have contact with the monkeys. They also stated they would take legal action against those who commit crimes against monkeys and other wildlife at Angkor Wat.

Juvenile northern pig-tailed macaques carried on motorcycle at Angkor Wat, social media
Pig-tailed macaques carried on motorcycle
Angkor Wat, social media

After spending several weeks monitoring social media channels and groups run by video operators in Siem Reap, Action for Primates, Lady Freethinker and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia have concluded that, following the APSARA statement, the situation for the monkeys has not improved. Our Report documents that the abuse is continuing, with videos being posted on numerous social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. These videos show the continuing deplorable activities of video operators deliberately interfering with and harassing the monkeys, causing stressful and distressing situations and disrupting their social groups in order to create content for online 'entertainment'.

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. In one disturbing video, a monkey was brought to Angkor Wat in a sack, with a chain around her neck and tape binding her arms and legs. These 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.

Announcement from APSARA in October 2022, following an investigation and appeals by Action for Primates, Lady Freethinker and Stop Monkey Abuse Asia, included the following:

In order to maintain the harmony of wildlife in Angkor Park, we would like to request the cooperation from the public and relevant authorities working together to prevent all these inappropriate activities that have been negatively impacting management of Angkor Park, which affects national pride and honor. At the same time, we urge national and international tourists to stay away from the monkeys and wildlife to avoid any harm...We will also take legal action against those who have committed crimes against monkeys and other wildlife in Angkor Park without exception.
Northern pig-tailed macaque female and infant being dragged along at Angkor Wat, social media
Pig-tailed macaque female, infant, dragged
Angkor Wat, social media

Sarah Kite, co-founder, Action for Primates, stated: For the sake of the monkeys and the safety of the public, we urge APSARA to fulfil the pledge it made, and intervene to stop this inhumane, unlawful persecution and exploitation of the macaques at Angkor Wat. A strict ban on people interacting with and feeding the monkeys must be enforced.

The footage is clear – video operators continue to harass the macaques for the sole purpose of 'entertainment' and making a profit, said Nina Jackel, founder and president of Lady Freethinker. It's crucial that Cambodian officials live up to their promises and take legal action against anyone who harms these magnificent animals.

Shaz Daisy Torrance, Stop Monkey Abuse Asia, stated: We are calling on APSARA to enforce the law, which is currently being ignored by video operators, at Angkor Wat. In particular, the treatment and abandonment of former 'pet' macaques in the temple complex is cruel and inhumane. They deserve freedom and a chance to return to a life in the wild.

Take Action for the macaques at Angkor Wat:

23 January 2023: US tax payers fund attempt to develop a non-human primate model of autism

Male rhesus macaque in Gokarna Forest, Nepal; photo credit Charles J. Sharp/Wikipedia
Male rhesus macaque living freely, Nepal
credit Charles J. Sharp/Wikipedia

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the science community at large offer repeated assurances that non-human primates are used in research only when necessary, when there is no other way to gain information that will advance the human condition. Despite this, we continually see published work on studies in which various species of non-human primates were used, mutilated and killed in the name of science. In most cases, not only is the information gained not applicable to humans, it is either available already or can be obtained in ethical and humane studies on humans.

A recent example of such a study is one in which captive rhesus macaques were observed to see if they had behaviour that might suggest autism-like traits (Talbot et al 2022). The work was done at the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC), which is funded by the public through the NIH (grants HD087048, MH020016, OD011107), comprising of many millions of US dollars. The authors were affiliated with the University of California-Davis, Cornell University, the Florida Institute of Technology and Stanford University. They wanted to use the information gained to identify an animal model which could then be exploited and manipulated in order to understand behaviour that might be translatable to human autism.

Autism is a spectrum condition and refers to a broad range of conditions thought to be influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Looking for autistic-type traits in monkeys is a simplistic, reductionist and mechanical approach to this complex condition. Furthermore, the rhesus macaques in question, even though being 'housed' outdoors in large groups, are not afforded the freedom and opportunities that would be present while living freely in their natural homes. Their development and behaviour would be different. Because they are not normal in the true sense of the word, findings in them are likely to be misleading.

More importantly, there is no shortage of studies involving humans with autism. A search of the National Library of Medicine online records reveals tens of thousands of such studies. Despite this, rather than pursuing humane and human-relevant areas of research, researchers are once again increasing – not decreasing – the use of non-human primates by trying to find new ways of using non-human primates as surrogates for humans. Once they 'establish' their animal model, it is almost certain that they will begin subjecting the macaques to various manipulations including giving experimental drugs or doing surgery to implant electrodes in order to study the connections in the brain.

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 annually to use and abuse non-human primates in the name of science, and journals such as the American Journal of Primatology continue to publish the results, research entities will continue to use non-human primates as surrogates for humans, often resulting 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 continued exploitation of non-human primates:


  1. Talbot, Catherine F.; Madrid, Jesus E.; Del Rosso, Laura A.; Capitanio, John P.; Garner, Joseph P. and Parker, Karen J. 2022-12-01 "Rhesus monkey sociality is stable across time and linked to variation in the initiation but not receipt of prosocial behavior" American Journal of Primatology 84(12):e23442

20 January 2023: Entire population of vervets to be slaughtered on Sint Maarten

African green monkey living freely; photo credit Cruelty Free International
African green monkey living freely
credit Cruelty Free International

Action for Primates is urging the government of Sint Maarten to abandon its appalling and inhumane plan to kill the entire population of vervets (African green monkeys) (Sint Maarten approves plan to destroy entire population of vervet monkeys). The slaughter is reportedly to 'resolve' the issue of negative interactions between people and the monkeys. Funding will be given to the NGO, Nature Foundation St Maarten, to capture and kill the entire population, estimated to be around 450 individuals, over the next three years. The slaughter of hundreds of sentient and intelligent beings will repulse people around the world and tarnish the reputation of Sint Maarten as a popular Caribbean holiday destination.

An open letter to the government of Sint Maarten, signed by over 60 groups and organisations, including Action for Primates, and individuals representing experts in the field of primatology, animal welfare, rescue and rehabilitation, has been published. The letter calls for the adoption of a sterilisation programme as a humane solution to managing the situation. Sarah Kite, co-founder of Action for Primates, has published an article summarising the situation with the vervets in One Green Planet.

Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, a veterinarian with many years experience of working with non-human primates in different settings, stated: Non-human primates share many of the important characteristics we value in ourselves. There is a greater awareness of the genetic proximity of non-human primates to human beings together with their capacity to experience pain, suffering and distress similarly to people. With the growing acknowledgement of the negative impact human activities are having on the planet and its inhabitants, it is more important than ever that we reassess the way we not only treat non-human primates, but how we humanely resolve negative interactions.

Rather than dismiss vervets as a 'pest' or a nuisance and killing them, Action for Primates appeals to the government and communities of Sint Maarten to learn to adapt their behaviour in ways that will help to prevent problems arising in the first place, and if problems arise, to support resolving such 'conflicts' humanely. Considerations for non-lethal resolution include reproductive control such as sterilisation combined with education programmes to help the public deal with and prevent negative interactions with monkeys.

Please speak up for the vervets on Sint Maarten and urge the government to abandon this inhumane plan and instead adopt a humane approach to any negative interactions with people:

Sint Maarten campaign logo

16 January 2023: Your help needed to provide protection for long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques in Indonesia

Southern pig-tailed macaque at Indonesian market
Southern pig-tailed macaque, Indonesian market
credit Animal Friends Jogja/Action for Primates

Harrowing images of baby long-tailed and southern pig-tailed macaques on sale at a market in Indonesia have been released by Animal Friends Jogja and Action for Primates, illustrating why these non-human primate species are in such urgent need of protection. These bewildered and distressed infants, who should be in the protective and nurturing care of their mothers and extended family, were found chained by the neck and imprisoned in small cages at this busy market alongside many other wild and domestic animal species.

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. In 2022, the IUCN Red List uplisted the conservation status of both species to Endangered. Despite this, neither species is being protected. Without such protection, and labelled as 'pests', the macaques are persecuted, killed or captured – abducted 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' on the streets as 'entertainment'.

Long-tailed macaque at Indonesian market
Long-tailed macaque, Indonesian market
credit Animal Friends Jogja/Action for Primates

Long-tailed 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. Harrowing video footage released by Action for Primates, revealed the shocking cruelty during such capture of long-tailed macaques in Indonesia (click here see our previous Take Action alert) and the inhumane way in which they were treated. The monkeys were trapped inside large nets and forcibly removed by hand, often dragged out by their tails (long-tailed macaques' tails are not prehensile, making spinal injury an issue) or pinned to the ground by a trapper's foot and removed, to be stuffed head first into sacks or crammed into wooden crates. On capture, infants were separated from their mothers, and 'unwanted' alpha males were beaten down with a pole and their throats cut with a machete.

The Primates Fight Back Movement, a coalition of animal protection, environment and conservation groups, including Action for Primates, is calling upon the Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry to protect long-tailed and southern pig-tailed macaques from exploitation, persecution and abuse.

The Asia for Animals Macaque Coalition has published The Macaque Report – Indonesia's Unprotected Primates. The Macaque Coalition comprises local and international animal protection organisations, including Action for Primates, which share an interest in protecting some of the most heavily exploited and misunderstood non-human primates on earth: macaques.

What you can do to help: Please urge long-tailed and southern pig-tailed macaques in Indonesia to be given protection:

13 January 2023: Capuchin monkeys killed just to get their brains in Brazil

Tufted capuchins; credit public domain
Tufted capuchins
credit public domain

Five adult capuchins, two females and three males, were killed for no other reason than to obtain their brains. The work was done at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro) in Brazil and was approved by their Ethics Committee for the Care and Use of Experimental Animals and done in accordance with the guidelines of the National Institute [sic] of Health for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. It was published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology (Bonfim et al 2023).

There was no mention of the species of the capuchins, only that they were of the genus Sapajus. No information was provided on the source of the individuals nor under what conditions they were housed before their lives were brutally ended. Each individual was deeply anaesthetised and then killed by injecting a poisonous substance (fixative) directly through their chest cavity into the heart.

The work was done just to see if a specific part of the brain (inferior parietal cortex) had a similar structure to that seen in macaques and how that might be considered in the context of evolution. In addition, it was part of a Master Dissertation project for one of the authors. The findings have no relevance for capuchins or any relevance to humans. We do not know whether the authors knew which species they were using, but we do know that not all species of a particular genus are identical; there are at least seven species of capuchins classified under the genus Sapajus and they have different behavioural traits. This calls into question the 'science' of this study. Furthermore, source and housing conditions have effects on the development of individuals, including of the brain and probably particularly the area the authors sought to examine: Skilled hand movements and tool manipulation are landmarks [sic] abilities observed in capuchin monkeys. The development of the brains of individuals who are born in their native land and who develop subject to the normal environment comprising land and vegetation, as well as the learning opportunities from their parents and extended family, will almost certainly be substantially different from those who are raised in a laboratory environment. Despite this, such information was not provided.

This work was simply carried out for 'intellectual curiosity'. It was a tragic waste of the lives of five individuals who should have been living freely in their native habitat, with others of their kind, including friends and family. We are told repeatedly that non-human primates are used only when necessary; this is yet another example where such assurances clearly are false.

What you can do to help:


  1. Bonfim, Vânio; Mayer, Andrei; Nascimento-Silva, Márcio L.; Lima, Bruss; Soares, Juliana G.M. and Gattass, Ricardo 2023-01-02 "Architecture of the inferior parietal cortex in capuchin monkey" The Journal of Comparative Neurology

3 January 2023: Infant monkeys deliberately subjected to maternal deprivation and maltreatment in publicly funded research in US

Rhesus macaque infant with mother; credit Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Rhesus macaque infant with mother
credit Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

In this shocking and particularly inhumane publicly funded research carried out at Emory National Primate Research Center, Emory University, and disturbingly deemed worthy of publication by the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, researchers purposefully fostered infant rhesus macaques with mothers known to maltreat their offspring (McCormack et al 2022). The infants were part of a group of 42 who had been removed from their biological mothers at birth and then provided with either a competent mother or one who had a history of infant maltreatment. The researchers wanted to observe the rates of maternal abuse and rejection received by the maltreated infants. In addition to outright rejection, infant maltreatment was defined, among other things, as physical least 3 instances of violent behaviors of the mother directed towards the infant...that cause pain and distress, e.g. dragging, crushing, throwing, or roughly grooming or carrying the infant. These behaviours produced distress in the infants.

Despite acknowledging that childhood maltreatment is a devastating form of early life adversity/stress resulting in increased risk for psychopathology (e.g., anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder -PTSD), substance use disorders, cognitive deficits, obesity, and inflammation, the researchers created even more misery and suffering by causing similar damage in infant monkeys. Unsurprisingly, the researchers concluded that monkey mothers who maltreat infant monkeys provide an overall lower quality of care leading to lasting problems for the infants and that caregiving at a very young age is critical to the development of both emotional and physiological regulation.

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. This shameful experiment, which will likely be repeated in various forms in the future, resulted in extreme suffering for infant monkeys and harm that may last their lifetime. It demonstrates the meaningless nature of such assurances and a lack of commitment to stop using non-human primates. Clinical studies – humane and ethical – 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 work was funded entirely by public funds through the National Institutes of Health and its branch, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Included were grants: MH078105, MH086203, OD011132 and OD010757. These grants comprise tens of millions of US dollars.

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 NIMH is a part (McManus 2013). Moreover, experts in primatology are calling for an end to this type of research (Padrell et al 2021). The many millions of tax-payer funds wasted annually on this kind of research would be of substantial use in helping people with mental health 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 annually to abuse non-human primates in the name of science, and journals such as Psychoneuroendocrinology continue to publish the results, research entities will continue to concoct these cruel experiments that comprise 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 research causing maltreatment of rhesus macaque infants:


  1. McCormack, K.M.; Howell, B.R.; Higgins, M.; Bramlett, S.; Guzman, D.; Morin, E.L.; Villongco, C.; Liu, Y.; Meyer, J. and Sanchez, M.M. 2022-12-01 "The developmental consequences of early adverse care on infant macaques: A cross-fostering study" Psychoneuroendocrinology 146:105947
    1. McManus, Rich 2013-06-21 "Ex-Director Zerhouni surveys value of NIH research" N.I.H. Record 65(13):
    2. [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."
    3. 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
    4. Here, we will review previous studies showing that primates have complex behaviour and cognition, and that they suffer long-term consequences after being used in invasive research.

      Although some invasive studies have allowed answering research questions that we could not have addressed with other methods (or at least not as quickly), the use of primates in invasive research also raises ethical concerns. In this review, we will discuss (i) recent advances in the study of primates that show evidence of complex behaviour and cognition, (ii) welfare issues that might arise when using primates in invasive research, (iii) the main ethical issues that have been raised about invasive research on primates, (iv) the legal protection that primates are granted in several countries, with a special focus on the principle of the 3Rs, and (v) previous and current attempts to ban the use of primates in invasive research. Based on this analysis, we suggest that the importance of a research question cannot justify the costs of invasive research on primates, and that non-invasive methods should be considered the only possible approach in the study of primates.

      In this study, we will use the term invasive research to refer to all research that (i) is conducted in the lab, (ii) implies stressful and/or painful body manipulations of individuals, and (iii) is not aimed to increase their welfare. Such body manipulations can range from inoculation with infectious agents and surgery to drug testing and blood sampling, but exclude veterinarian applications that directly benefit the animals...

      The exact number of NHPs currently used worldwide in invasive research is unknown, but estimates suggest that more than 100,000 NHPs are used every year, mostly in the USA...In the United States, the annual report of animal usage informed that 70,797 NHPs were housed in research facilities used in regulated activities; 26,137 of these animals were used in painful procedures and received pain relieving, or similar, drugs, while 802 were subject to painful procedures but did not receive drugs because they would adversely affect results...

Information on NIH grant support (funding) is taken verbatim from relevant publications. If you have difficulty with any links provided, you can do your own search through the NIH RePORTER site:, by copying and pasting the grant number into the Search field on the form.

Be aware that some grants include funds for more than experiments on non-human primates.