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BUAV call to the UK Government to end support for cruel 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. Despite a widely publicised ban on the use of wild-caught primates in UK research since 1997, there is no protection for the offspring of wild-caught primates or primates exported from farms which trap wild primates for breeding purposes.

In answers to Parliamentary questions tabled by Henry Smith MP, Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone stated this week that to date, in 2011, a total of 1,012 monkeys have been imported into the UK for research purposes. 480 of these monkeys were the offspring of parents captured from the wild (known as F1 generation or captive-born) (1). Last year almost all monkeys imported into the UK were born to parents captured from the wild (2). The main species imported is the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis).

The BUAV’s campaign, which calls for a ban on the import of the offspring of wild-caught primates, has received widespread support. Earlier this year, an Open Letter to UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, was signed by a host of politicians, scientists, academics, wildlife experts and celebrities, including actor and comedian, Ricky Gervais, actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna, environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, and conservationist Ian Redmond (3).

130 MPs have also signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 957) calling on the Government to end the UK’s involvement in the wild-caught primate trade (4).

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, including Mauritius, China, Vietnam and the Netherlands. The capture of primates from the wild is inherently cruel and inflicts great suffering. 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.” (5).

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 in Mauritius obtained shocking evidence of the cruelty and suffering involved in the trapping and breeding of wild monkeys (6). Mauritius is the UK’s main supplier of primates, including the offspring of wild-caught parents.

The BUAV’s Chief Executive, Michelle Thew, states: “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.”


For further information, video footage and photographs, please contact BUAV’s Press Office: Fleur Dawes - fleur.dawes@buav.org or +44(0) 7850 510 955 or +44 (0) 207 619 6978

1) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111025/text/111025w0002.htm#111025w0002.htm

2) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm101104/text/101104w0001.htm#qn_8

1,256 of 1,284 monkeys imported to the UK in 2010 were the offspring of wild-caught parents.
3) http://www.buav.org/our-campaigns/primate-campaign/uk-primate-trade-campaign
Other signatories include author Richard Adams, TV wildlife presenters Simon King, Bill Oddie, Michaela Strachan and Mark Carwardine along with celebrities such as Dr Brian May, Jenny Seagrove and Toyah Wilcox. Other individuals to sign up include barrister Michael Mansfield, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and leading academics and scientists such as Professor Roger Crisp, Professor William McGrew, Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, Professor Stephen Harris, Professor Michael Balls, Professor Vernon Reynolds, and Professor Jonathan Wolff. Politicians include David Blunkett MP, Vernon Coaker MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Zac Goldsmith MP, Chris Davies MEP, Jillian Evans MEP, Nigel Dodds MP and Charles Kennedy MP.
4) http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/957
5) 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 http://apc.homeoffice.gov.uk/reference/apc_response_house_of_lords.pdf
6) http://www.buav.org/our-campaigns/primate-campaign/buav-primate-trade-investigations/trading-in-cruelty

Fleur Dawes
Media Officer

British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV)
16a Crane Grove
London N7 8NN
Direct: +44 (0) 20 7619 6978
Out-of-hours: +44 (0) 7850 510 955
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7700 0252

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