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BUAV calls on UK Government to stop supporting the trade in wild-caught monkeys for research


The BUAV is calling on the UK Government to disassociate itself from the cruel trade in wild-caught nonhuman primates for research. It believes the UK public is being mislead because despite a widely publicised ban on the use of wild-caught primates in research since 1997, there is no such ban on primates who are the offspring of wild-caught parents (known as F1 generation or captive-born) and those exported from farms which still trap wild primates for breeding purposes.

In answers to Parliamentary questions tabled by Henry Smith MP, Home Office Minister Lynn Featherstone has stated that in 2009, 1,257 and so far in 2010, 970 monkeys who were the offspring of wild-caught parents have been imported into the UK (1). Between 2008 and 2009 almost 5,000 nonhuman primates were imported for experimental use in the UK.

The source of primates used in research raises important ethical questions. Many of the primates used in UK laboratories are imported from countries outside the EU. Recent proposals by the European Commission to ban the import of wild-caught and captive born primates into the EU were vigorously lobbied against by the animal research industry. The proposals were subsequently dropped from the final revision of the EU Directive on animal experimentation.

The capture of nonhuman primates from the wild inflicts suffering and is inherently cruel. The substantial negative impact caused by the trapping and removal of wild primates from their natural social groups is universally recognised by a number of organisations and official bodies, including the UK government’s own advisory committee, the Animal Procedures Committee:

“Trapping wild primates can cause significant distress, suffering and physical injury.” (2).
The BUAV has undertaken numerous field investigations into the international trade in primates for research. Evidence obtained reveals the immense suffering inflicted on primates during their capture, caging, holding and transportation for the research industry. The most recent investigation carried out by the BUAV this year in Mauritius obtained shocking evidence of the cruelty and suffering involved in the trapping and breeding of wild monkeys (long-tailed macaques or Macaca fascicularis). Mauritius is the UK’s main supplier of primates, including the offspring of wild-caught parents – between 2008-2009, the UK imported 2,752 of these monkeys from Mauritius alone (3).

Read more and view footage from this investigation

BUAV’s Director of Special Projects, Sarah Kite, states: “The British public is misled into thinking our Government has taken a principled position against the involvement of wild-caught primates in research when the reality is very different. By allowing the importation of monkeys born to wild-caught parents, the UK is fuelling a cruel and unnecessary trade which is morally unacceptable. We call on the UK Government to ban the import of these primates and stop perpetuating this appalling cruelty.”

Please email the UK Home Office to call for an end to this cruel trade in primates




2)  European Union Committee Sub-committee D (Environment and Agriculture), Inquiry into the Revision of the Directive on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes: Summary of evidence submitted by the Animal Procedures Committee