Transporting monkeys for animal testing: a deadly act

Did you know that more than 98% of the macaques used in animal experiments in Germany come from non-European countries? [1] Monkeys are kidnapped from their natural habitat, the forests of Asia and Mauritius, and exploited to maintain a “supply chain” for breeding laboratories. In 2020, 2,111 monkeys were abused in experiments in Germany, more than a hundred of whom were children of wild-caught parents.

Monkeys are imported out of the public eye. The industry sentences tens of thousands of monkeys to death each year, posing a threat to the ape population and the common people alike. Secret laboratories, epidemic risks, and animal suffering are part of the business model of the primate transport industry. The USA PETA investigation reveals the reality of a violent industry that sells monkeys for profit, covering up grievances and ignoring human threats.

Imported Monkeys: They are caught from the wild as breeding animals

Animal testing laboratories need tens of thousands of monkeys each year for their cruel work. With this demand, they support a violent, profit-oriented underground industry that also fuels the illegal trade in monkeys. It’s a multibillion dollar industry – made up of animal scavengers, international breeders, commercial carriers, airlines, and local trucking companies.

With the animal “end consumer” priced at several thousand dollars, the industry is happy to turn a blind eye when wild-caught monkeys are considered purported breeding animals. But whether the monkeys were kidnapped from the jungle or bred on factory farms in Asia or Mauritius, they were all sent around the world, out of the public eye, potentially causing huge damage not only to the ape population but also to the aspirants. general.

Monkeys are not only bred for animal experiments, but they are also kidnapped from the wild.
Photo: Jo Ann MacArthur/We Animals Media

The baby monkeys were put in bags, and the mother monkeys were forced to reproduce

Capturing monkeys in Asia or Mauritius and “breeding” them is cheaper and less time-consuming than directly breeding them in Germany. That’s why thousands of animals are snatched from their homes every month and taken to overseas breeding facilities. Violence goes through this process from start to finish.

First, scavengers in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Mauritius capture monkey mothers with traps and take their young away from them. The mothers – or other members of the group of monkeys who have survived captivity up to this point – are put in cages, and the babies in bags. Some monkeys are sold directly to laboratories in the United States, while others go first to commercial breeding factories, where mothers constantly breed in squalid and cramped conditions. Injuries and illnesses are the daily order here. Many animals died. Babies are snatched from their mothers shortly after birth.

Endangered by the animal testing industry

The brutal exploitation of monkeys in research laboratories is one of the main reasons why some species are now threatened with extinction. The long-tailed macaque’s conservation status was recently upgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to the animal experiment statistics for 2020, 1,384 of the 1,405 macaques abused in animal experiments in Germany came from non-European countries. [1]

Exploitation of monkeys to conduct experiments on cruel animals leads to the extinction of their species.
Photo: Jo Ann MacArthur/We Animals Media

Painful transport by plane

Factory farming conditions in this area are similar to the so-called live animal markets. The animals that escape captivity are then placed there in small wooden boxes and carried by the hundreds on planes. They face a terrifying journey in complete darkness to their certain death. Sometimes the trip to the United States takes several days. Monkeys sit in their own secretions during this time.

Such trips are dangerous for both monkeys and humans. Because they bring monkeys, which can contract infectious diseases, into contact with countless people: airline crews, passengers, loading staff, and airport staff. In addition to monkeys, other animals are also transported in a dormitory. The escape of animals would pose a great danger to the public.

official and confidential

The US government is well aware of how dangerous this system is – but ignores the danger. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) banned the import of primates for private use as early as the 1970s. They testified before a government commission:[N]Non-human primates, especially those recently caught in the wild, may contain infectious agents in their blood or other body tissues that can cause serious or fatal illness in humans. […] [Da] We often don’t know the medical history of nonhuman primates imported into the United States from other countries [die Tiere] potentially carrying infectious diseases to humans.”

The CDC has approved several facilities (the exact number remains confidential) across the country as quarantine sites. The imported monkeys are housed there until they are sent to laboratories and thus to their certain death. The CDC does not disclose where these facilities are located or how many monkeys there are. There is also a lack of any additional information about the places of quarantine and the monkeys there. Everything is kept a big secret.

an airport
Icon image. Monkeys are transported to other countries by plane.

Risk of disease from imported primates

Trade in imported primates isn’t just dangerous for monkeys. Because of our genetic similarity, the risk of transmission of bacteria and viruses between apes and humans is greater than that of any other group of animals. Primates are known to be carriers and vectors of a full range of pathogens and threatened diseases, including herpes B virus, tuberculosis, antimicrobial resistant microbes, Ebola-like viruses, hemorrhagic fever virus, shigellosis, salmonella, campylobacter, malaria, dengue and leprosy. Such viruses have also been detected in primates in laboratories in the European Union. [2]

Although commercial importers of monkeys are required to screen for deadly pathogens that can spread to humans, these factors are often overlooked, not all can be detected, and some emerge months or years later. New viruses, which have not yet been identified and which have the potential to cause epidemics, pose a danger. Scientists who deal specifically with zoonoses risk in the context of international animal trade have found that trade in long-tailed macaques and rhesus monkeys has the greatest potential for transmission of zoonoses. [3, 4]

In Danville, Pennsylvania, people recently got a taste of how frightening the anonymity of this delivery system can be—and how dangerous it can be. A nondescript carrier distributed his cargo of 100 monkeys on a public highway. Three animals ran away.

What happens to monkeys in experimental laboratories?

Monkeys in laboratories endure all kinds of painful and deadly experiences. For example, herbicides, pesticides or new drugs are tested on them. But the truth is that the vast majority of these attempts are futile. 95% of all new medicines that have been shown to be safe and effective in animal studies have never been approved for humans. [5]

In addition, monkeys should be used to conduct experiments that merely serve to satisfy curiosity. They are cut in the fresh air, given electric shocks, exposed to radiation, contracted diseases, addicted to drugs or alcohol, kept in complete isolation, traumatized in attempts to provoke fear, or subjected to attacks designed to induce depression. For the current year, 20 very tough experimental projects with macaques have been approved in Germany alone: ​​In one experiment, macaque skulls were excavated in order to place the cannulas. Additionally, the animals were fixed in the so-called primate chair for eight hours for the experiment. [6]

monkey in cage
Monkeys belong to freedom – they are not tortured and killed in cruel, meaningless experiments.

Most monkeys are killed once the experiments are complete or the animals’ bodies are too lean for them to use. Very few of them make it out of the lab alive – and none have been able to make it home.

Dead monkeys and unfulfilled promises

Despite decades of promise and hundreds of thousands of monkey deaths, animal experiments have not produced any effective vaccines against HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, or other serious diseases. COVID-19 experiments have shown science how irrelevant and often misleading the monkey experiences are. It is time to put an end to this barbaric and deadly trade.

A call to end animal testing in the European Union

Animal experiments offend sentient beings, although the results cannot be reliably extrapolated to humans and could even hamper the development of important drugs. These harsh experiences are morally unacceptable.

Help modernize research in Europe: sign up to the European Citizens Initiative for the Mandatory Phase Out of Animal Testing in the European Union.

  • Sources

    [1] German Center for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (2021): Use of Laboratory Animals in 2020, (Accessed 15 August 2022)

    [2] Chudy, M. (11.2004): Asymptomatic natural herpes B virus infection in a colony of laboratory brown Capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella),

    [3] Johnson CK, Hitchens BL, Bandit PS, et al. Global shifts in mammal population trends reveal key indicators of the risk of the virus spreading. Brooke Byul Sci. 2020; 287 (1924): 20192736. pp. 7-8, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2736

    [4] Borsky S, Hennighausen H, Leiter A, et al. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and Zoonoses Content in International Trade in Wildlife”. Environment Res Econ. 2020;76:1001-1017, doi:10.1007/s10640-020-00456-7

    [5] National Center for the Advancement of Translational Science (NCATS): About NCATS, (Accessed 15.08.2022)

    [6] AnimalTestInfo, a database on animal testing projects in Germany,

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