Owl Monkeys used in controversial research finally get their freedom

08/08/2014

The BUAV has welcomed a decision by authorities in Colombia that has resulted in hundreds of wild-caught owl monkeys being returned to the Amazon jungle and back to their wild lives.

The Colombian High Court Consejo de Estado, has revoked the permit of the Immunology Research Foundation of Colombia (FIDIC) which allowed them to conduct research on wild- caught owl monkeys in an attempt to develop a Malaria vaccine. The founder of the laboratory reportedly told a Colombian newspaper earlier this year that hundreds of animals were supplied by indigenous people, who were paid about US$40 for each monkey they trapped.

The decision follows a high court battle with Primatologist Dr Angela Maldonado, Scientific Director of Fundaction Entropika, an organisation seeking to protect Amazonian Wildlife, which has been campaigning for many years to end the capture and trade in owl monkeys. In 2012, the Administrative Court of Cundinamarca provided a first instance ruling against the research institute, declaring violations to Colombia’s laws regarding the capture and release of owl monkeys for the purpose of research.

Concerns raised by Dr Maldonado included:

i) the numbers of wild owl monkeys being captured exceeded the numbers permitted on the research license

ii) the use of owl monkeys imported from neighbouring countries such as Peru

The BUAV has supported Dr Angela Maldonado in her efforts to protect owl monkeys. In 2012, our field investigation into the trade in owl monkeys in Colombia and Peru, revealed the cruel trapping of these wild animals, the destruction of their rainforest habitat, and breaches in international trade regulations.

Evidence uncovered by the BUAV, which has contributed to this long-running court case, revealed the cruel methods used to capture wild owl monkeys. Aside from the animal suffering inflicted as a result of this trade, the BUAV documented the environmental damage that trapping causes. Owl monkeys from Peru were trapped and used for research in Colombia, despite a ban implemented on the export of primates by Peru in 1974. The apparent unregulated trade in both countries has serious ramifications on the Amazon rainforest which is being destroyed and thereby negatively impacting the many species which rely on and inhabit it.

To find out more about BUAV’s investigation into the trade in owl monkeys please visit: www.bit.ly/OwlMonkeyTrade.

The BUAV opposes the use of all nonhuman primates in research and strongly encourages compliance with enforcement of national and international laws put into place to protect nonhuman primates in the wild. We welcome this decision, and hope that Colombia has set an example. Those found to be in violation of national and international law concerning the protection of primates must be held to account.  

The full article can be found here: http://bit.ly/1AXu4Po