Vet Calls For End To Monkey Drug Tests


The cruel practice of testing drugs and chemicals on monkeys is outdated and "bad science", according to a new report. Veterinary surgeon and zoologist Andre Menache, who lives in Sevenoaks, has produced research calling for an end to use of non-human primates in toxicity testing. He told how the monkeys are captured in the wild and torn away from their family groups before being shipped in crates from countries including China, which takes 54-hours, to the UK.

"Once here they are put in single cages, nothing resembling their natural environment, and taken away from their families. They go bananas, biting and beating themselves," Mr Menache, director of the non-governmental organisation Antidote Europe, said.

"Before they’ve even been experimented on, the animals are so stressed it invalidates the data... They will be killed at the end of the experiment or may be used more than once before they are killed."

His report has been backed by BBC wildlife presenter Charlotte Uhlenbroek and seeks to show that now scientists have access to human cells and DNA there is no need to use monkeys in experiments.

"We are told that toxicity tests are performed on non-human primates to safeguard human health, because of their similarity to us," Dr Uhlenbroek said.

"However, by the same token we have a duty and an obligation to afford them special protection. Given that modern science has the means to obtain the required safety data without the use of animals, we must act immediately and decisively to end those animal experiments."

Mr Menache, who has given up working in a veterinary practice to concentrate on his work for Antidote Europe, aims to get modern scientific methods to replace animal experiments within EU legislation.

"The UK experiments on more monkeys than any other country in the EU – 3,000 a year, which is massive," he said.

"It is for ticking boxes – to get a drug on the market you have got to show it’s safe and the easiest way is to test it on an animal.

"But the data you are going to get is relevant to the monkey."

He said the most common species used in tests were macaques that are mostly imported from China and Mauritius. "Animal experimentation is a bad habit or bad science left over from the 19th century. There is no excuse now human DNA is available, we do not need to text on the monkey. "It is a chain reaction. Once the public is made aware it will put pressure on the politicians and the politicians will put pressure on the regulatory authorities."

Mr Menache, 56, who became interested in his subject after reading an anti-animal experimentation magazine as a student in South Africa, said we have a duty to protect the monkey because they are so like us.

"When you see these animals with tattoos across their chests being subjected to horrific procedures I think any normal human being would say that’s not right," he said.

His report has been aimed at politicians and regulatory authorities to prove that testing on monkeys is no longer necessary now that there are more accurate methods. Dr Uhlenbroek said: "I have been privileged to observe the behaviour of non-human primates in their natural habitat.

"I have watched how they develop long-term bonds of affection and show emotions of happiness, fear and even jealousy.

"They most certainly have a sense of self and there is now documented evidence to show that non-human primates grieve when members of their social group die."

Mr Menache provides talks about testing drugs and chemicals on animals at schools and colleges, for more information email him at


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© Keith Mann