By Alex Glenn •
Published: 06 Dec 2021 • 16:25
Call to end the Mauritius trade in monkeys for research. Every year, thousands of monkeys are imported from Mauritius to suffer in European laboratories.
Animal protection groups across Europe are participating in a Week of Action against the trade in monkeys for research from Mauritius. From December 6 to December 11, more than a dozen European animal groups will be raising awareness among their supporters and the public by holding events and taking part in a social media campaign that will focus attention on the Mauritius government, embassies, and tourism offices across Europe, calling for an end to the Mauritius trade in monkeys for research.
Mauritius is famous for its beaches, tropical climate, heritage sites and wildlife. The country is a popular destination for European holidaymakers and is promoted as a “paradise island”. However, this image is tarnished by a dark side of which most holidaymakers are totally unaware: the country’s cruel persecution of its wild monkeys.
Mauritius is one of the world’s largest exporters of monkeys for the global research and testing industry and the main supplier to Europe, exporting thousands every year.
In 2020, 10,827 long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) were exported from the country, an increase of 40% from 2019. Between January and September 2021, 10,810 long-tailed macaques were sent overseas to laboratories, including 1,913 (Spain), 758 (France), 642 (UK), 109 (Netherlands), 112 (Canada) and 7,276 (USA). This represents an increase of over 58% for the same period during 2020.
Supply companies – Camarney SL in Spain and Silabe (Simian Laboratory Europe) in France – are known to regularly import many of these monkeys for breeding or for sale to laboratories in Europe.
The monkeys are packed into small transit crates and transported as cargo by air. Air France is the main airline known to be involved in transporting monkeys from Mauritius to Europe. Other airlines that fly monkeys out of Mauritius to other destinations include Safe Air (Kenya-based) and Wamos Air (Spanish-based).
Captured from their habitat and taken from their families and social groups, long-tailed macaques may be exported overseas to laboratories or held in one of eight breeding farms in the country. Tens of thousands are kept captive in these breeding farms, spending their lives behind bars. Their offspring are taken from the mothers to be later exported overseas; some may only be 16 months of age when exported.
Despite widespread global concern over the capture of non-human primates from the wild for use by the animal research and testing industry, the Mauritius government recently granted permission for one of the monkey farms to capture around 1,000 wild monkeys.
Several official bodies and organisations, including the European Union (EU), recognise the suffering involved in the wild-caught trade and from 2022, wild-caught primates can no longer be imported for breeding or use in experiments in the EU.
Around 11,609 experimental procedures took place on non-human primates in the EU in 2017, with France, Germany and the UK being the main users. Regulatory toxicity testing is a major area in which long-tailed macaques are used. Toxicity (or poisoning) testing is carried out on monkeys to assess adverse reactions to drugs (or chemicals), primarily to develop commercial products for humans.
The tests are carried out using different concentrations of the test substance, over different periods of time. These experiments are especially cruel and usually involve restraining the monkeys too in order to give the test substance intravenously (directly into the bloodstream) or injected through a tube that is forced into their mouths to reach the stomach. Monkeys may suffer effects such as lethargy, vomiting, seizures, difficulty breathing, skin problems and weight loss. Other adverse effects may include internal bleeding and organ failure. Surviving animals are killed at the end of toxicity tests and their bodies dissected and examined.
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Originally from the UK, Alex is based in Almeria and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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