Action for Primates

Long-tailed macaques, photo by Sarah Kite
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Take Action on Behalf of Non-human Primates 2024

The following are take action items we have posted in 2024. 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:


28 May 2024: Healthy rhesus macaque infants killed in maternal obesity study

Mother rhesus macaque with infant; Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Mother rhesus macaque with infant
Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Pregnancy complications for women who are obese include development of gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia. In this experiment, researchers used nineteen pregnant female rhesus macaques as surrogates for obese, pregnant female humans in order to see if caloric restriction or the use of a compound already in use in human mothers made a difference. The macaques were from an indoor breeding colony at the California National Primate Research Center in Davis, California (Hasegawa et al 2023). The research was approved by the UC Davis animal use committee and was paid for using public funds (NIH grants HD084203, HD103526, OD010962, OD011107; USDA grant 1021411).

The mothers for the test group were ones who were considered to be obese, had been successful in producing offspring in the past and who were pregnant with a male foetus. A similar group of mothers who were not obese were part of the lean control group. A total of 19 obese mothers were assigned to either one of the two intervention groups: five received a restricted supply of food; seven received pravastatin, a statin drug already in use in humans; seven comprised an untreated obese control group. Maternal gestational samples and postnatal infant samples were compared with six lean control mothers. The researchers euphemistically referred to the mothers as being enrolled, as if the mothers had a choice.

Although most of the macaques were allowed to deliver naturally, cesarean delivery was done when it was believed that there would be problems otherwise. Following the surgery and birth, the mothers of these infants did not accept them, and the infants had to be fostered, adding to their stress.

The infants were subjected to a series of tests to determine their brain and behavioural development. To collect samples, anaesthesia using ketamine or Telazol was used. It is well-known that chemical restraint is associated with discomfort at best, particularly during recovery.

All infants were killed (euphemistically and incorrectly referred to as euthanasia by the researchers), apparently at 180 days of age. They were first fasted (how long not stated in Methods), then anaesthetised. After collection of samples, they were killed and then their kidneys and brains were removed for evaluation. There was no mention or apparent concern for the extreme distress the mothers experienced as a result of the loss of their infants.

What was learned? Although the two interventions tested led to some improvements in metabolism or infant brain development, negative impacts were also found in the mothers and infants. Nevertheless, the researchers stated that their study deepened the understanding of the impacts of calorie restriction or pravastatin administration in mothers with obesity on maternal and offspring health. It should be obvious to anyone, that the results were only valid for rhesus macaque mothers, that the deepened...understanding had nothing to do with human mothers. Furthermore, the results were substantially confounded because the rhesus macaques were in captivity where life is far from normal. It is well known that translatability between artificial studies in non-human primates to humans is tenuous at best and dangerous at worst.

Obesity is one of the world's greatest health problems, with more than a billion people globally now considered to be obese. As well documented in the paper by the researchers, there are already substantial data on the impact of obesity on reproductive and developmental health in humans. It is morally repugnant that pregnant monkeys are being used in this cruel research, with their babies, at just a few months old, taken from them and killed. There is no reason why well-designed, humane and human-relevant studies cannot continue to be done on the best and largest laboratory in the world: the human population.

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


Cited information:

  1. Hasegawa, Yu; Kim, Danielle H.J.; Zhang, Zhichao; Taha, Ameer Y.; Capitanio, John P.; Hogrefe, Casey E.; Bauman, Melissa D.; Golub, Mari S.; Van de Water, Judy; VandeVoort, Catherine A.; Walker, Cheryl K. and Slupsky, Carolyn M. 2023-05-15 Calorie restriction and pravastatin administration during pregnancy in obese rhesus macaques modulates maternal and infant metabolism and infant brain and behavioral development Frontiers in Nutrition 10:1146804

Euthanasia:

The term euthanasia means that an individual is being killed by another, but solely with the interests of the individual dying in mind. Of necessity, this means that the individual dying would benefit from death by ending a situation that is causing intractable suffering. Ideally, the individual would be able to indicate that he or she prefers death to continued life. In some situations, particularly in veterinary medicine, this may not be feasible because of an inability to communicate with the individual. In these situations, it becomes especially important that the person ending life must be clear on their motives which must derive only from a sincere belief that ending the life is in the best interests of that individual at that moment. If the person is also the one who placed the individual in a situation causing suffering, as is usually the case in a research setting, it would be a perversion of the definition to label this as 'euthanasia'. One cannot get credit for ending suffering for which they are responsible.

In addition to considering the interests of the individual being killed, euthanasia also demands that the method of death be as quick, painless and stress-free as humanly possible. Any method that results in more than momentary and mild pain, creates an atmosphere of extreme anxiety or otherwise impacts negatively on the individual cannot logically be considered euthanasia.


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: https://reporter.nih.gov/, 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.

13 May 2024: Rhesus macaques used in disturbing research in Europe to 'learn' their responses to music

Rhesus macaque with head post in a laboratory; SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Rhesus macaque with head post in a laboratory
SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

Contrary to all the norms of using non-human primates in research only when absolutely necessary and only when there are no other alternatives available, rhesus macaques who had head posts and brain electrodes implanted from a previous experiment, were subjected to severe restraint to see how they responded to music (Bianco et al 2024). The research was apparently done at the Italian Institute of Technology, with additional researchers affiliated to institutions in Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK (see list). Funding included public and private sources of funds (funding sources). Animal care and housing, and the experimental procedures were stated to have complied with European (EU Directive 63-2010) and Italian (DL. 26/2014) laws on the use of non-human primates in research.

Two adult male rhesus macaques were euphemistically referred to as participants, as if they had made a conscious choice to be used in experimentation. The macaques had been experimented upon previously by several of the Italian researchers in the current group (Novembre et al 2024), during which they were subjected to invasive surgery to implant a head post into their skulls and electrodes into their brains through a craniotomy). They were restrained in a Crist Instrument Co primate chair). Their heads had been shaved for electroencephalogram electrodes.

In the present experiment, the macaques were forced to endure 26 sessions with their heads severely restrained using the head posts in dark, sound-proofed room facing a screen. Each session lasted at least 95 minutes. The macaques were forced to listen via two audio speakers to music (piano and musical melodies) at about 75 dB. Their responses, using a computer joystick, were recorded as timing and pitch changed. Their fate after the experiments were concluded was not stated.

Startlingly, the researchers had already available the same data from human volunteers, who had made a conscious choice to be involved and did not have to be subjected to brutal head surgery. This meaningless experiment, which resulted in substantial suffering for the macaques, demonstrated once more that researchers and licensing authorities are insincere when they try to assure the public about only using non-human primates when necessary. It is unquestionable that there is 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. Learning how macaques respond to music is certainly not consistent with the public pronouncement by the Italian Institute of Technology: We strive to excel in basic and applied research in order to address the big challenges of humanity. The macaques in this study had to endure the stress of captivity, earlier major survival surgery and severe restraint for what can only be considered frivolous reasons and clearly contrary to the Replacement criterion for the 3Rs.

What you can do to help:


Cited information:

  1. Bianco, Roberta; Zuk, Nathaniel J.; Bigand, Félix; Quarta, Eros; Grasso, Stefano; Arnese, Flavia; Ravignani, Andrea; Battaglia-Mayer, Alexandra and Novembre, Giacomo 2024-01-22 Neural encoding of musical expectations in a non-human primate Current Biology 34(2):444-450.e5
  2. Novembre, Giacomo; Lacal, Irene; Benusiglio, Diego; Quarta, Eros; Schito, Andrea; Grasso, Stefano; Caratelli, Ludovica; Caminiti, Roberto; Mayer, Alexandra Battaglia and Iannetti, Gian Domenico 2024-01-03 A Cortical Mechanism Linking Saliency Detection and Motor Reactivity in Rhesus Monkeys The Journal of Neuroscience 44(1):e0422232023

Craniotomy:

This is a surgical procedure to access the brain. Typically, an area on the head is shaved. An incision is made through the skin and tissues underlying it, down to the surface of the skull, in such a way as to create a flap that can be pulled away to expose the skull. Depending on what type of access to the brain is required, holes may be drilled through the skull into the brain cavity, for example for injections, or a portion of the bone may be cut out in order to implant a bank of electrodes. When done, bone cement may be used to fill in the hole in the skull and the overlying tissues sutured.


Primate chairs:

Macaque in primate chair; Cruelty Free International / SOKO Tierschutz
Macaque in primate chair
Cruelty Free International / SOKO Tierschutz
So-called 'primate chairs', such as those manufactured by Crist Instrument Co, are restraint devices which secure the individual in an unnatural sitting position. Further restraint is often used through a neck plate which goes around the neck to prevent side-to-side or front to back movements of the head. The head may be severely restrained through the use of a post surgically implanted into the skull and held by part of the chair. Depending on the procedures being done, the arms and legs may be secured further by taping them to the chair supports.


Head posts:

As the name implies, these are posts that are attached to the skull. Surgery is done on the head to dissect through skin and other tissues down to the surface of the skull. The post is cemented or screwed in place. Once healing has occurred, the post is used to restrain the head while recordings or other experimentation is done. It is almost always combined with a neck plate so that the non-human primate cannot move their heads.


Affiliations included Neuroscience of Perception & Action Lab, Italian Institute of Technology, Italy, the Center for Music in the Brain, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University & The Royal Academy of Music, Denmark, and the Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, UK.

Individual researchers were funded by the European Union and the European Research Council, Center for Music in the Brain was funded by the Danish National Research Foundation and The Comparative Bioacoustics Group was funded by Max Planck Group Leader funding.

5 May 2024: Captive Primate Safety Act reintroduced in USA Congress

Olive baboon, former 'pet', USA; Sarah Kite/Born Free
Olive baboon, former 'pet', USA
Sarah Kite/Born Free

Action for Primates has welcomed the reintroduction in Congress of the Captive Primate Safety Act in the US by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). This bipartisan legislation, introduced on 1 May 2024, would ban the private 'ownership' of all non-human primates as 'pets', and restrict the public having direct contact with non-human primates.

Senator Blumenthal stated: Wild animals belong in the wild, not shackled and mistreated in someone's backyard. Humans often are injured by wild animals kept as pets because their deeply ingrained instincts resist domestication, causing them to be dangerously unpredictable pets. The Captive Primate Safety Act is about safety, but also basic humane behavior– ending exploitation of these human-like, highly intelligent, social animals.

In the US, the private 'ownership' of non-human primates is still legal in many states. These animals are bred commercially to be sold as 'pets'; infants are removed from their mothers and advertised for sale dressed in human children's clothes. They may even have their tails removed to make it easier to put on diapers. Non-human primates are wild animals and do not belong in captivity in homes and backyards. They should be living freely with their family and social groups in their native habitat. Depriving them of their freedom, the companionship of others of their kind and keeping them under totally unnatural conditions, is cruel and immoral.

When kept in captivity as 'pets', non-human primates can become a danger to people. As they mature and become physically stronger, they become unpredictable and aggressive towards humans and can cause serious injuries. To deal with this aggression, people will often add to the inhumanity of the situation by removing teeth and nails in the erroneous belief that this will prevent injuries.

You can find more information on the issue of non-human primates in private homes on our Non-human Primates in Private Homes ('Pets') page.

This is a critical piece of legislation and the fact that it has bipartisan support is monumental. If you are a US citizen, please contact your president and federal legislators and politely urge them to support this bill. We need to show Congress that the public do not want to continue the vile practice of imprisoning non-human primates as 'pets'.

Use this link to find your legislators: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

29 April 2024: Appeal to Ethiopian Airlines to stop transporting monkeys

Long-tailed macaque in laboratory; SOKO Tierschutz and Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaque in laboratory
SOKO Tierschutz and Cruelty Free International

Action for Primates is appealing to Ethiopian Airlines to end its involvement in the transportation of monkeys for the research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. The appeal follows an alert received by Action for Primates that Ethiopian Airlines recently transported 250 long-tailed macaques, originating in Mauritius, to the USA. The monkeys were initially transported by Safe Air, a Kenyan based cargo airline, to Addis Ababa, before being transferred to an Ethiopian Airline's aircraft for onward transport to the USA.

The long-tailed macaques were exported by the Mauritius monkey dealer, Bioculture, to BC US LLC, its facility in Florida. Bioculture is a major exporter of macaques, including those captured in the wild. In 2022, the company exported over 4,000 wild-caught monkeys to animal supply and testing laboratories in the USA.

The transportation by airlines of non-human primates destined for the research and toxicity testing industry is an issue that invokes strong public concern. These intelligent and sensitive animals are subjected to unimaginable stress and anxiety as they are packed into small crates and loaded into cargo holds, and exposed to the bewildering and frightening unnatural sounds and sensations of air travel thousands of miles across the world. Many airlines have ended their involvement in this cruel business, including Air France which stopped in 2023, after decades of transporting long-tailed macaques from Mauritius to the USA and Europe.

Please join us in calling on Ethiopian Airlines to do likewise, and place a permanent embargo on the transportation of monkeys:

15 April 2024: Rhesus macaques irradiated and allowed to suffer in publicly funded research in USA

Rhesus macaque in laboratory cage; Cruelty Free International/SOKO Tierschutz
Rhesus macaque in laboratory cage
Cruelty Free International/SOKO Tierschutz

Female and male adult rhesus macaques were subjected to lethal irradiation by several USA governmental agencies including the Naval Medical Research Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, as well as the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (Singh et al 2024). The experiment was done at BIOQUAL, Inc, a contract testing laboratory in Maryland. The work was funded by the USA taxpayer through grants by Congress and the Armed Forces. According to the researchers, the procedures were approved by the animal use committee of BIOQUAL and the Department of Defense.

Thirty-two rhesus macaques (18 females and 14 males) were used for this study. They were between 3.5 and 5.5 years old. The researchers claimed to follow the 3Rs by using only eight macaques per experimental group.

The macaques were all housed singly and were denied direct contact with each other, something that is critical to their well-being. They were anaesthetised and subjected to either partial or total body irradiation at doses expected to cause death. The purpose was to study the damage to various organs and to see if a particular treatment called GT3 might have a beneficial effect. The researchers had planned to kill three macaques in each group on days four and seven, and the remaining animals on day ten post-irradiation for tissue collection. By day seven post-irradiation, however, all the macaques were moribund [at the point of death] and were killed, according to the researchers, to save them from pain and suffering. Before the macaques reached a moribund state, however, they would have suffered substantially as a result of radiation poisoning. The researchers only alluded to this by pointing out that the macaques developed severe injuries including functionally crippling lesions within various major organ systems. The tested treatment had limited protective effect.

This was an extremely inhumane experiment. It is morally reprehensible that these monkeys were used as surrogates for humans and made to suffer unimaginably as a result of being poisoned with irradiation. We already know that irradiation causes major organ damage, suffering and death in humans. It is morally unconscionable to cause similar suffering and death in others.

What you can do to help:


Reference:

  1. Singh, Vijay K.; Wise, Stephen Y.; Fatanmi, Oluseyi O.; Petrus, Sarah A.; Carpenter, Alana D.; Lee, Sang-Ho; Hauer-Jensen, Martin and Seed, Thomas M. 2024-03-08 Histopathological studies of nonhuman primates exposed to supralethal doses of total- or partial-body radiation: influence of a medical countermeasure, gamma-tocotrienol Scientific Reports 14(1):5757

9 April 2024: Join call to USA to end cruel macaque imports from Indonesia

Wild-caught mother whose infant was taken in Indonesia; Action for Primates
Wild-caught mother whose infant was taken, Indonesia
Action for Primates

Action for Primates and Lady Freethinker are calling on the USA to stop importing long-tailed macaques from Indonesia. The call follows the revelation that, in 2023, over 1,400 long-tailed macaques, who were captured from the wild in Indonesia, were imported by the USA research and toxicity (poisoning) testing industry. This was despite widespread global concerns about the inherent inhumanity of trapping wild monkeys and increasing awareness of the vulnerability of the conservation status of this species.

During 2023, there were three shipments of long-tailed macaques: 322 individuals imported on 17th May; 540 on 31st May and 540 on 27th December. All the monkeys were reported as having been captured in the wild. This represented an increase of almost 40% since 2022, when 870 wild-caught macaques were imported by Primate Products in Florida, and 120 captive born macaques were imported by Charles River Laboratories.

Action for Primates has previously released harrowing video footage of the capture of wild long-tailed macaques in Indonesia. This footage provides compelling evidence of the cruelty of the trappers and the suffering and distress caused to the monkeys. The cruelty included brutal capture methods, the forced separation of nursing infants from their mothers and the beating and killing of unwanted individuals. Such inhumane treatment is a clear breach of international animal welfare guidelines.

Long-tailed macaques are CITES listed Appendix II, with their conservation status having been increased to Endangered with a decreasing population trend by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

The USA is one of the world's major importers and users of non-human primates. Long-tailed macaques are the primary non-human primate species used in regulatory toxicity tests, which is the area in which most non-human primates are used. Toxicity (or poisoning) testing is carried out to assess adverse reactions to drugs (or chemicals), and often involves substantial suffering and death.

Nina Jackel, Founder of Lady Freethinker, stated: The spike in macaques being shipped from Indonesia to the U.S. for research and testing purposes is shocking and alarming. The evidence clearly shows that these animals are suffering immensely, and it's time for the government to take meaningful action to stop the cruelty.

Sarah Kite, co-founder, Action for Primates, stated: Capturing monkeys from the wild inflicts substantial suffering. The handling and treatment of the monkeys seen in the Action for Primates video is brutal and inherently inhumane. It is also a clear breach of international animal welfare guidelines. Action for Primates is urging the USA government to dissociate itself from this extreme cruelty by banning all imports of monkeys from Indonesia.

Please join our call by signing the Lady Freethinker and Action for Primates petition urging the United States government to immediately end the import of monkeys from Indonesia:
https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-justice-for-indonesian-monkeys-trapped-and-brutalized/

Long-tailed macaques are indigenous to Indonesia, part of the rich and diverse ecosystem, contributing to the country's unique biodiversity. The species, however, is not protected under Indonesian law and, in addition to the capture and export for the global research and toxicity testing industry, its wild populations face many other threats, including hunting for human consumption; capture as 'pets' or to be used in tourism and 'entertainment' activities, including the disturbing rise in baby macaque abuse videos filmed for broadcast on social media; and killing due to negative interactions with people.

What you can do to help:

18 March 2024: Concerns over slaughter of green monkeys in Barbados

Green monkeys living freely; tjabeljan
Green monkeys living freely
tjabeljan

Green monkeys are not indigenous to Barbados. They were introduced to the island, and several other countries in the Caribbean, by humans many hundreds of years ago. As a result of a highly favourable climate, feeding opportunities and no major natural predators, the species has increased in numbers since. Because the human population has increased and habitat has been destroyed in order to grow human crops, there is competition for resources between the monkeys and humans.

Rather than deal with this issue humanely and effectively, the Barbados government has decided to indiscriminately slaughter monkeys in a short-sighted attempt at mitigation – offering a bounty of $25 per monkey to farmers to hunt the animals. The slaughter of potentially hundreds of sentient and intelligent beings is inhumane and unacceptable. Further, it is well-known that killing monkeys in an attempt at 'population control' fails because of the rebound increase in reproduction caused by this. Removing them by the thousands has been shown to also fail (Boulton et al 1996).

Whereas we understand the concerns of the farmers and those people producing human food, we know that this proposed 'quick fix' will simply result in more killing on a regular basis. It would be far more efficient – and humane – to develop a comprehensive, well-managed sterilisation scheme. Although this will not immediately reduce monkey numbers, it will have a lasting effect that can keep numbers in control in the long term. In the meantime, there are numerous measures that can be taken to humanely reduce some of the unfavourable interactions with people (Springer 2020). The study by Springer was commissioned as a result of recommendation by The African Green Monkey Sub-committee of The Biodiversity Conservation and Management Section of The Ministry of Environment and National Beautification, Barbados. We do not know how much, if any, of the recommendations in the manual have been implemented. It is, nevertheless, alarming that Barbados is promoting extermination rather than an effective, long-term solution such as sterilisation combined with deterrence.

What you can do to help:

Reference:

  1. Boulton, A.M.; Horrocks, J.A. and Baulu, Jean 1996-10-01 The Barbados vervet monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus): Changes in population size and crop damage, 1980–1994 International Journal of Primatology 17(5):831-844
  2. Springer, Justin H.A. 2020-01-01 Best Practices in Green Monkey Deterrence: A Manual for Farmers in Barbados Mosaic Eco Consult accessed 2024-03-06

12 March 2024: URGENT appeal – help to ban 'trophy' hunting imports into Great Britain

Chacma baboons on anthill in South Africa; Grobler Du Preez, Dreamstime
Chacma baboons, South Africa
Grobler Du Preez, Dreamstime

On 22nd March, the UK Government has another opportunity to deliver on its manifesto commitment to ban the import into Great Britain of body parts from endangered and vulnerable wild animals, including non-human primates such as baboons, green and other monkeys, hunted and killed overseas for 'sport' and 'entertainment', so-called trophies.

Action for Primates, along with other animal and wildlife protection groups as part of the Coalition Against Trophy and Canned Hunting (CATCH), wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We urged the Government to remain committed to deliver on its manifesto pledge and to ensure the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill attains Royal Assent.

A ban on the import of these sickening 'trophies', including skins, severed heads, other body parts and carcasses, was promised in the 2019 manifesto by the Conservative Party. Despite widespread public and cross-party political support, in September 2023, the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill by Henry Smith MP was deliberately blocked by a small minority of pro-hunting peers in the House of Lords.

Henry Smith recently told the Daily Express newspaper: Sadly, the bill was killed off by a small group of Lords when it reached their House...A ban was promised in the 2019 manifesto that Conservative MPs such as myself were elected on and is strongly supported across the political spectrum in the Commons. For it to have been thwarted by a minority peers was a terrible denial of democracy and shocked many people.

The good news is that an identical Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill is now being led by John Spellar MP, and is due to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Friday 22nd March.

It is sickening that these wonderful, sentient beings living freely in the forests and savannas of Africa, have their lives cruelly taken from them so that their bodies can end up as 'trophies' on someone's wall. If you are a UK citizen, please urgently contact your MP asking them to attend Parliament on Friday 22nd March and to vote for the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill by John Spellar MP.

Here is sample wording you can copy, edit and send as a message to send to your MP:

Dear I am writing to you regarding an important Bill that receives its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Friday 22nd March 2024, a Bill that would ban the import of hunting 'trophies'. Wild endangered animals, including lions, rhinos, giraffes and monkeys are being hunted and slaughtered by people from the UK for 'sport' and 'entertainment'; their bodies dismembered and imported into the country as 'trophies'.

There is widespread political support for such a ban. In September 2023, a similar Bill from Henry Smith MP received widespread support in Parliament, but was deliberately blocked by a small minority of pro-hunting peers in the House of Lords.

I would be very grateful if, as my Member of Parliament, you will attend Parliament on 22nd March and vote for John Spellar's "Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill" to end this cruel and shameful trade in endangered animals' body parts.

Sincerely,

You can find your MP here: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP

5 March 2024: Squirrel monkeys deliberately subjected to spinal cord injury and death in public funded research in USA

Guianan squirrel monkeys living freely in French Guiana; Cayambe
Guianan squirrel monkeys, French Guiana
Cayambe

Guianan squirrel monkeys at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, USA, have been mutilated and killed in an attempt to replicate spinal cord injury in humans (Manzanera Esteve et al 2024). Injury of this type results in serious and permanent loss of body movement and sensation depending on the location and degree of damage. The work was approved by the University's animal use committee and funded by the USA taxpayer through grants NS092961 (millions of $ US) from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and SC160154 (about $783,000 US) from the Department of Defense.

Four adult male Guianan squirrel monkeys were used, source not stated. After determining each monkey's dominant hand use, the monkeys were anaesthetised and subjected to deliberate injury to their spinal cord. The C5 site (neck region) was cut through in order to prevent the monkeys being able to use or feel fine touch sensations from the fingers of the dominant hand. This required subjecting the monkeys to a laminectomy (the removal of part or all of the vertebral bone to expose the spinal cord) after cutting through skin and other tissues. The wounds were sutured closed and the monkeys were returned to their cages after they awakened. A negative impact on hand use was reported by the researchers: all animals displayed hand use impairments, characterized by an unwillingness to use the injured hand for cage climbing, abnormal hand posture while holding food, and an increased number of false positive attempts in food retrieving trials. What the researchers failed to report was the psychological impact to the monkeys. It is reasonable to assume that the monkeys would have experienced anxiety and confusion by what had happened to them.

The monkeys were repeatedly tested for their ability to grasp and retrieve food. They were also anaesthetised numerous times over the next 24 weeks in order to do MRI scans. Recovering from anaesthesia involves considerable suffering. When the experiment was over, all the monkeys were killed (euphemistically referred to as euthanized by the researchers) to get tissue for further study.

The conclusion by the researchers was that this methodology could be utilized to guide clinical treatments aimed at reducing the extent of injured tissue and enhancing the recovery mechanisms. No cure, no treatments, no progress in terms of directly helping people with spinal cord injuries. This was a highly technical and basic science approach to a very specific type of cervical spinal cord injury in one species of non-human primate. This may have no relevance for other primate species, including humans. This kind of reliance on animal 'models' has even been criticised by a previous NIH Director (McManus 2013). Moreover, we know that basic science research may not provide any clinical insight (Contopoulos-Ioannidis et 2003).

There are thousands of human patients with spinal cord injuries in the USA alone. The kind of information derived by artificially mutilating the spinal cords of monkeys could easily be obtained using such human patients with different types of spinal cord injury, providing ethical, humane and human-relevant data. It is this kind of information that will ultimately be of direct use in helping human patients.

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 barbaric experiment, which resulted in substantial suffering and death for the monkeys, demonstrates the meaningless nature of such assurances and a lack of commitment to stop using non-human primates.

What you can do to help:


Cited information:

  1. Manzanera Esteve, Isaac V.; Wang, Feng; Reed, Jamie L.; Qi, Hui Xin; Thayer, Wesley; Gore, John C. and Chen, Li Min 2024-02-29 Model-based parcellation of diffusion MRI of injured spinal cord predicts hand use impairment and recovery in squirrel monkeys Behavioural Brain Research 459:114808
  2. Contopoulos-Ioannidis, Despina G.; Ntzani, Evangelia E. and Ioannidis, John P.A. 2003-04-15. Translation of highly promising basic science research into clinical applications The American Journal of Medicine 114(6):477-484.
  3. McManus, Rich 2013-06-21 "Ex-Director Zerhouni surveys value of NIH research" N.I.H. Record 65(13)
  4. [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."

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: https://reporter.nih.gov/, 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.

29 February 2024: USA imported over 1,400 wild-caught monkeys from Indonesia during 2023

Baby long-tailed macaque trapped with mother in Indonesia; Action for Primates
Baby long-tailed macaque trapped with mother
Action for Primates

Please join Action for Primates in urging the USA to stop importing long-tailed macaques from Indonesia. Our renewed call follows the disclosure that, during 2023, 1,402 long-tailed macaques captured from the wild in Indonesia were imported by the US research and testing industry. This represents an alarming increase of almost 40% since 2022, when the USA imported 870 wild-caught and 120 captive born long-tailed macaques.

In 2021, the government of Indonesia allowed the capture and export of wild long-tailed macaques to resume. This was despite widespread global concerns about the inherent inhumanity of trapping wild monkeys and increasing awareness of the vulnerability of the conservation status of this species. Since this resumption of wild trapping, the conservation status of the long-tailed macaque has been increased to Endangered with a decreasing population trend by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (Hansen et al 2022).

Action for Primates has previously released harrowing video footage of the capture of wild long-tailed macaques in Indonesia which provides compelling evidence of the cruelty of the trappers and the suffering and distress caused to the monkeys; see video here and our previous Take Action here. This included brutal capture methods, the forced separation of nursing infants from their mothers and the beating and killing of unwanted individuals. Such inhumane treatment is a clear breach of international animal welfare guidelines (McCann et al 2007).

Long-tailed macaques are indigenous to Indonesia, part of the rich and diverse ecosystem, contributing to the country's unique biodiversity. The species, however, is not protected under Indonesian law and, in addition to the capture and export for the global research and testing industry, its wild populations face many other threats, including hunting for human consumption; capture as 'pets' or to be used in tourism and 'entertainment' activities, including the disturbing rise in baby macaque abuse videos filmed for broadcast on social media; and killing due to negative interactions with people.

Please take action for the long-tailed macaques in Indonesia by doing the following:

References:

  1. Hansen, M.F.; Ang, A.; Trinh, T.; Sy, E.; Paramasiwam, S.; Ahmed, T.; Dimalibot, J.; Jones-Engel, L.; Ruppert, N.; Griffioen, C.; Lwin, N.; Phiapalath, P.; Gray, R.; Kite, S.; Doak, N.; Nijman, V.; Fuentes, A. and Gumert, M.D. 2022-07-01 Macaca fascicularis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T12551A199563077 International Union for Conservation of Nature accessed 2023-07-31
  2. McCann, Colleen; Buchanan-Smith, Hannah; Farmer, Kay; Fitch-Snyder, Helena; Jones-Engel, Lisa; Prescott, Mark and Taylor, Sylvia 2007-01-01 IPS International Guidelines for the Acquisition, Care and Breeding of Nonhuman Primates: Second Edition 76 pp International Primatological Society accessed 2024-02-29

8 February 2024: URGENT APPEAL – Stop construction of massive monkey farm in Mauritius

Long-tailed macaque in toxicity testing, Germany; SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaque in toxicity testing, Germany
SOKO Tierschutz/Cruelty Free International

Action for Primates is deeply concerned over a proposal for another monkey farm to be established in Mauritius. The company, Hammerhead International Ltd, has submitted an application to the Ministry of the Environment with a proposal to build a facility that will eventually hold up to 12,000 long-tailed macaques. The company will initially be exporting around 4,000 wild-caught monkeys per year to laboratories where they will be subjected to experimentation and toxicity (poisoning) testing (like the monkey in the photo). If granted, this proposal would inflict even further suffering upon long-tailed macaques, including the capture of thousands of monkeys – 40-50 individuals every day, for over 300 days in the year, totalling up to 15,000 monkeys – an inhumane practice universally recognised as cruel because of the removal of the monkeys from their families, friends and and homes.

Urgent action is needed as we only have until the 24th February 2024 to submit objections to this application (see below).

Hammerhead International Ltd is a notorious company that made headlines in March 2023, when Mauritius authorities seized 446 long-tailed macaques – found to be kept in deplorable conditions – from an illegal farm it was operating. Its director, Shafeek Jhummun, was arrested and the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security has brought a case against Hammerhead International for the ill-treatment of animals and for the illegal possession of macaques.

Long-tailed macaque living freely in Mauritius; Cruelty Free International
Long-tailed macaque living freely, Mauritius
Cruelty Free International

In recent years, Mauritius has exported many thousands of monkeys to laboratories in the USA, Canada, France, the UK, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. Numbers have increased following the United States Fish and Wildlife Service investigation into the global trafficking of long-tailed macaques which led to restrictions on the export trade from Cambodia. The USA is now importing thousands of wild-caught monkeys from Mauritius. Long-tailed macaques are the primary non-human primate used in toxicity testing, which is the deliberate poisoning of animals to see whether and how much of a chemical or drug it takes to cause them serious harm or death. They are forcibly restrained, and a test substance given by injection, infusion, stomach tube or aerosol – in increasing amounts to measure the poisoning effects. The suffering caused to the macaques is immense and immeasurable.

Action for Primates has joined with other organisations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the USA, One Voice, Abolición Vivisección and Cheshire Animal Rights Campaigns in Europe, and Monkey Massacre in Mauritius, in calling on the Government of Mauritius to refuse permission for this proposal. There is growing concern about the use of non-human primates in laboratories and 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. We need to show the Mauritius government the strength of opposition to this cruel trade in monkeys' lives.

Please speak up for the monkeys in Mauritius:

2 February 2024: Long-tailed macaques subjected to brutal xenotransplant surgery in USA

Young long-tailed macaques in Mauritius breeding facility; Cruelty Free International
Young long-tailed macaques, Mauritius
Cruelty Free International

Twenty-five long-tailed macaques lost their lives in a brutal experiment in which their kidneys were removed and replaced by those from mini-pigs (who also were killed) (Firl et al 2023). The work, which was done at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the USA, was almost entirely supported by eGenesis, a company which supplies xenotransplant organs and which supplied the mini-pigs used and killed in this research. The macaques were obtained from Charles River Laboratories, Alpha Genesis, Inc. and BC US LLC. Some of the macaques, supplied by BC US LLC, were stated to be wild-caught. BC US LLC is a breeding, holding and quarantine facility located in Florida. It is part of the Bioculture Group and imports wild-caught long-tailed macaques from its sibling company Bioculture (Mauritius) Ltd (BCM). In 2022, Bioculture (Mauritius) exported over 4,000 macaques – captured from the wild – to the USA.

In addition to the obvious vested interest of eGenesis in this work, three of the authors were being supported by or were employees of the company; two were stated to have equity interest in eGenesis. Three others had served as consultants to the company. Two of the researchers were supported by National Institutes of Health grant AI007529.

The procedures to which the macaques were subjected were reportedly conducted in accordance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals...with the approval of the Massachusetts General Hospital Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (Protocols 2017N000216 and 2017N000214).

The twenty-five long-tailed macaques were subjected to at least one major abdominal surgery to remove both their kidneys and implant the pig kidneys. Only 17 individuals lived past 60 days as eight were killed before this time, although no details were provided as to why this was done. The researchers acknowledged that this survival rate may not be representative of human xenotransplantation given certain incompatibilities of transplanting an organ designed for humans into NHPs [non-human primates] and challenges in NHP post-transplant care.

Due to kidney function problems, four of the surviving macaques had had only one kidney removed initially. They were subjected to another major abdominal surgery about 20 days later to remove the other kidney. All the macaques were subjected to chemical immunosuppression so that they would not reject the pig kidneys. They were also subjected to multiple additional surgical procedures to remove pieces of the transplanted kidneys every two to four months, for evaluation. Survival periods for the macaques were stated to be from 64-648 days. It was not clear from the publication whether the macaques died or were killed (euphemistically referred to as euthanized by the authors) because they were suffering beyond what was 'acceptable', including allowing the loss of 25% of body weight.

Eleven of the macaques developed hydronephrosis (stretched and swollen kidney due to build up of urine). The authors did not provide any details on the effects of the transplantation on the welfare and well-being of the macaques, other than to state that post-transplant care in non-human primates is 'challenging'. We know, however, that major abdominal surgery of this type (xenotransplantation) would result in considerable pain and suffering for an extended period, even if pain relief was provided. The authors provided no information on whether or what pain relief they may have provided the macaques.

The researchers acknowledged many serious limitations to their work, calling into question any applicability to humans:

Research involving xenotransplantation – the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another – is some of the most gruesome work carried out on non-human animals. Such research raises many moral and welfare issues for the individuals who are genetically modified to be used as providers of organs, such as the mini-pigs killed in this experiment, and for those used in the research as recipients of the transplants. Xenotransplantation research involves the major trauma of the transplantation surgery and its inevitable consequences. In addition, the individuals suffer greatly from the immunosuppressive drugs they have to receive to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ, including internal haemorrhage, vomiting, diarrhoea and kidney or heart failure.

Action for Primates opposes xenotransplantation research and the 'creation' of genetically engineered non-human animals as living spare-parts 'warehouses' for people. Other options for addressing organ donor shortages should be considered, such as adopting an 'opt-out' approach to organ donations. In this case, unless explicitly expressed otherwise, the deceased is considered to have given tacit approval to be an organ donor. This would go a long way in increasing the availability of suitable organs for human-to-human transplants. The USA, however, seems intent on adopting xenotransplantation as a solution. Not only does the country operate an opt-in system for donor donation, in 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved genetically engineered pigs for use in food and medical products.

What you can do to help:


Cited information:

  1. Firl, Daniel J.; Lassiter, Grace; Hirose, Takayuki; Policastro, Robert; D'Attilio, Ashley; Markmann, James F.; Kawai, Tatsuo and Hall, Katherine C. 2023-06-13 Clinical and molecular correlation defines activity of physiological pathways in life-sustaining kidney xenotransplantation Nature Communications 14(1):3022

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: https://reporter.nih.gov/, 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.

8 January 2024: Pregnant rhesus macaques fed marijuana and unborn infants killed in USA research

Rhesus macaque mother and baby living freely; Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Rhesus mother & baby
Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Rhesus macaques at Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon National Primate Research Center in the USA were made to consume marijuana edibles before and during pregnancy and their unborn infants removed surgically and killed (Shorey-Kendrick et al 2023). The experiment was approved by the institution's animal use committee and was funded largely by public funds through grants from the National Institutes of Health: DA056493, HD000849, HD097116 and OD011092. Additional funding was provided through the March of Dimes Foundation and a Silver Family Innovation Award.

The macaques were used as 'models' of human chronic cannabis exposure via the consumption of edible tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) consumption similar to that seen in humans. The researchers wanted to see if giving cannabis during pregnancy was harmful to foetal genetic material. Ten adult female rhesus macaques were used (five were used as 'controls'). They were housed indoors, but, contrary to accepted practice and recommendations (ARRIVE; Pomerantz et al 2022), there was no mention if they were singly housed and no other information on enrichment, etc, was provided. Because the monkeys were being fed a drug at a dose based on each individual, we have to assume that they were singly housed. The 'experimental' group was given tetrahydrocannabinol in cookies (edibles) every day for about four months before being subjected to breeding to make them become pregnant, and throughout their pregnancies; the 'control' macaques were given a placebo. On gestational day 155, when the foetuses were almost full term (about 168 days), all the macaques were subjected to major survival surgery during which their foetuses were removed and killed. No details on the surgery were provided nor were there details on how the foetuses were killed.

The fate of the ten mothers after their use as 'foetus producers' was not mentioned. There was no stated consideration for the psychological trauma the mothers would have endured from the loss of their almost full-term infants, yet the mother-infant bond in non-human primates is similar to that in humans. We can only assume that these mothers were returned to the breeding 'colony' to be used again to produce more offspring for research. This is an exceptionally cruel fate for a species that is so like our own with respect to maternal bonding and attachment and developmental needs. Charities such as March of Dimes Foundation and Silver Family Foundation are committed to improving the health of mothers and babies and positive youth development. We cannot comprehend why they would choose to fund research that purposefully involved the infliction of such cruelty and suffering on non-human primate mothers and their unborn infants.

The researchers concluded that their results did not contribute substantially to our understanding of the long-term consequences of cannabis use on foetuses. Although they claimed that their limited results could be used to help counsel humans who use cannabis during pregnancy, they cited studies done on human beings, which demonstrated the effects of cannabis use on humans during pregnancy and beyond. The information necessary for counselling humans is already available. This study was done apparently without any regard for alternative, reliable and humane ways of getting information and was contrary to the Replacement criterion for the 3Rs.

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 the death of their foetuses, 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.

What you can do to help:


Cited information:

  1. Shorey-Kendrick, Lyndsey E.; Roberts, Victoria H.J.; D'Mello, Rahul J.; Sullivan, Elinor L.; Murphy, Susan K.; Mccarty, Owen J.T.; Schust, Danny J.; Hedges, Jason C.; Mitchell, A.J.; Terrobias, Jose Juanito D.; Easley, Charles A.; Spindel, Eliot R. and Lo, Jamie O. 2023-07-06 Prenatal delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol exposure is associated with changes in rhesus macaque DNA methylation enriched for autism genes Clinical Epigenetics 15(1):104
  2. ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) https://arriveguidelines.org/ Accessed 2023-12-08
  3. Pomerantz, Ori; Baker, Kate C.; Bellanca, Rita U.; Bloomsmith, Mollie A.; Coleman, Kristine; Hutchinson, Eric K.; Pierre, Peter J.; Weed, James L. and National Primate Research Centers' Behavioral Management Consortium 2022-06-01 Improving transparency—A call to include social housing information in biomedical research articles involving nonhuman primates American Journal of Primatology 84(6):e23378

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: https://reporter.nih.gov/, 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.