Primates Trade

Posted in General news by Glô! on the September 5th, 2006

From the Jungle to
the Lab

Primates are rarely bred in captivity. The suffering begins well before they enter the labs. The international trade in primates causes animal misery on a massive scale.
At every step in the process — from branches in their lush jungle home to cages in cold, barren laboratories — primates suffer and die by the thousands.

The demand from the research industry for a continuous supply of primates has led to the trade in wild caught animals around the world.
While many countries—notably, India, Brazil, Peru, Malaysia, and Thailand—have banned the export of all primates because of conservation and welfare considerations, other countries continue to participate in the cruel trade for the sake of easy money.
The vast majority of the animals pictured in cages in labs were once roaming free in the tundra of Tanzania, the sugar plantations of Mauritius or the jungles of Indonesia and China, in Barbados and The Philippines.

The Island of Mauritius is one of the Worlds largest exporters of primates to animal testing labs.
While tourists enjoy holidays in Mauritius, many thousands of monkeys wait in fear in secret farms from where they will be shipped off to die in painful, unscientific experiments in labs.

Many of these primates are wild caught and literally pulled from the jungle to be kept in these farms and then dispatched across the world (the largest importer of primates being the United States).

The conditions of transport are so appalling that a large proportion of animals die, from shock, hypodermia, dehydration, or starvation.
Once on the ground, the monkeys are trucked to holding centers, animal supply companies, and laboratories for quarantine. During the subsequent quarantine period more animals die from pneumonia and other diseases.
Once the animals arrive at the research facility, even greater misery often awaits. Locked alone in cold metal cages, far from their tropical home, and without companionship and appropriate environmental enrichment, they are destined to endure pain and suffering in the name of science and education. (The picture is from ADI. It shows a distribution centre in Spain for macaque monkeys from Mauritius.)

Despite the fact that most primate species are listed as endangered, traders from these countries only see them as profit.
Local villagers and farmers set traps by using nets or laying bait in crates or baskets. The large net traps, baited with fruit, are sprung once a group of animals venture inside. The indesirable animals are not released but are beaten to death or sold for meat.

The surviving animals are packed into tiny crates with little to no food or water and taken to holding centers or farms where they await shipment to several parts of the world.

Overcrowding in the holding centers or farms results in fighting between animals. They may be unable to stand normally in the small, dirty wooden crates. Some succumb to the intense tropical heat. In the larger cages, survivors are forced to climb over their dead companions. Animals unwanted for research are weeded out at this stage. Females and younger animals are most desirable. Monkeys who are too large, too sick, too thin, or too old are killed.
According to a 1992 BUAV investigation, up to 75% of the animals may be disposed of at the holding centers.(Picture from NAVS.)

Primate suppliers

A network of traders has developped to ease the transport from farms to labs.
Most primates are imported, not by the research facilities themselves, but by commercial dealers who supply the laboratories with animals. More than half of the primates imported to the U.S. in the past five years were brought in by just two companies and their affiliates — Charles River, Inc. and Covance Research Products, Inc. .


The infamous network also includes a number of multinational companies such as airlines companies.

The main four carrying primates are:
- Air France
- El AI.(Israelian airline)
- Aeroflot
- Japan Airlines

The main reason for France-KLM endorsement of the monkey trade is its close ties with the French government and the direct support of shareholders, who are also top executives of large pharmaceutical companies like Sanofi-Aventis. AIR-France-KLM seems to have also the support of some major animal welfare organizations arguing that the ban on air shipment of non-human primates would actually worsen their living conditions.

Some carriers, including American Airlines, continue to ship primates who are destined for laboratories between cities within the United States.

In August 1992, Lufthansa Airlines shipped 110 long-tailed macaques from Indonesia. All 110 monkeys on board were discovered dead on the plane’s arrival in Florida. Shock and stress caused by freezing temperatures and lack of proper ventilation was cited as the cause.

In May 1997, Air France transported a shipment of monkeys from Indonesia to the U.S., via Paris. During the flight, one monkey escaped from her crate, causing the entire shipment to be held up for two days while all of the crates were reinforced to prevent further escapes. In Paris, a nursing female monkey was found dead, and her baby subsequently killed. Although the shipment of pregnant females and suckling young is a violation of U.S. law, Air France has yet to be charged.

Airline Companies that do not profite from this trade:

- In December 2005, British Airways made an ethical decision by writing to activists to assure them it would not accept the carriage of primates, wild birds or other live animals “for use in any laboratory or for experimentation or exploitation.”

- Air Mauritius also decided to nolonger transport primates.(2005)

- Virgin Airlines and British Midlands have not carried live animals for several years.

- China Airlines—once the second-largest transporter of primates to the United States—also stopped carrying primates destined for experimentation.(Sept 2000)

- Delta, TWA, and United, (all American companies) for example, all refuse to participate in this despicable trade.

Sources / More info

[1] Air Mauritius: Geocities.
[2] British Airways: The guardian.
[3] Air France: The Ecologist, Nov 2000.
[4] Air China: Business Wire.

[5] Primates in Transit : report from Buav.(Adobe Reader required.)

[6] Primate Report : The RSPCA investigation.(Adobe Reader required.)

[7] Primates in Peril : Primates being caught in East Africa. A Report from Buav

To view the video footage the RSPCA shot inside the farm , click here.

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