BUAV recently revealed that Brazil’s and Latin America's largest airline, TAM Linhas Aéreas, flew eleven marmoset monkeys from Brazil to the University of Nebraska in the USA last year. Following on from our revelation and our call to TAM Linhas Aéreas urging them to end their involvement in the cruel trade of primates for research, TAM released the following statement:
Regarding the recent transportation of a group of monkeys, we would like to address that we do not have the right to question the purpose of service, and our responsibility is to ensure the transportation of the contracted service.
TAM Cargo cares about the environment and supports many sustainability initiatives, including a partnership with Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) for the free transfer of confiscated wildlife back to their natural habitat.
Through this partnership that began in 2009, we transported about 700 animals, including rattlesnakes, capybaras, primates, penguins, birds and seagulls. Last year, we were also the first to transport a shark in partner with an NGO in Argentina.
We would like to emphasize that we simply cannot refuse to transport primates, because that would be against our partnered agreement with Ibama. Just as an example of our partnership with the Institute, we recently transported 50 golden lion tamarins from Niteroi to Porto Seguro, which was extremely important to preserve this species.
According to AVI (acronym for the international transportation of live animals as cargo), when an airline is transporting live animals, it is required to submit extensive documentation, which includes authorization of Ibama, an assessment that during the trip there will be no risk to the animals and the flight will be safe.
We will contact BUAV NGO to provide clarification and full support for any issues that may arise.
If TAM Linhas Aéreas adopts a policy to not transport primates destined for research, then the airline will be the latest in a long line of major international carriers to implement a policy on the back of widespread public concern about the trade. Examples of those airlines, that were once major carriers, to have ceased transporting primates, include British Airways, United Airlines, Northwest Airlines, South African Airways, Delta Airlines, Eva Air and China Airlines. Most recently, American Airlines and Caribbean Airlines have both declared that they will no longer transport primates destined for research.
United Airlines told the BUAV ‘Please know that we do not support the transportation of non-human primates and we would be happy to be placed on the list that bans this practice’ and Swiss International Airlines stated ‘At Swiss World Cargo we dissociate ourselves from the cruelty and suffering of the international trade in primates and we do not accept either monkeys (non-human primates) or live cats/dogs for research, for transport on any of our routes.’
Each year tens of thousands of primates are transported by air around the world for the research industry. Many of these individuals will have been cruelly trapped in the wild or bred in captivity within countries such as Mauritius, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines and Indonesia. For many years the BUAV has highlighted the animal welfare problems associated with this international trade. In particular, the injuries and stress caused by the trapping of wild primates and the separation of these highly intelligent and social animals from their family groups, as well as the suffering caused by confinement on breeding farms, which the BUAV has found are often in breach of international animal welfare guidelines.
Primates are packed into small wooden crates, usually too small to allow them to stand up, and travel as cargo, mainly on passenger flights. The size of the compartment for each monkey is about 30 cm (length), 50 cm (width) and 50 cm (height). The monkeys can endure inadequate ventilation, noise, temperature fluctuations and delays en route as they are shipped on extremely long journeys to research laboratories across the world. Monkeys may become ill or die in transit. For others, anxiety and stress can lead to infection and the onset of disease which may remain latent until the animals reach their final destination.
Statistics for primate deaths and illnesses either during transportation or subsequently are generally not publicised. However, examples of primates being found dead on arrival, often as a result of distress and shock due to the conditions on board airlines, have been documented from around the world. Once on the ground, the animals are trucked to animal supply companies and laboratories for quarantine. In some countries, such as the United States, this can take several days.
Previous research and investigations carried out by the BUAV provide a disturbing insight into just how these animals suffer. Conditions that resulted in the death or euthanasia of monkeys imported into the USA during 2009 included pneumonia, enteritis, gastroenteritis, dehydration, weight loss, poor body condition and bacterial infection. Other reported incidents graphically illustrate the trauma experienced by these sensitive wild animals during their transportation on airlines.
We urge TAM Airlines to respond to the growing public concern and dissociate itself from the cruel trade in primates for research.
Please contact TAM Linhas Aéreas to urge them to end their involvement in the cruel trade of primates for research:
Chief Executive Officer and President
TAM Linhas Aéreas
Av Jurandir, 856 – Lote 4 (Jardim Ceci)
Sao Paulo 04072 – 000