Trade In Lab Monkeys Exposed


Monkeys torn from families on paradise isle and used to breed babies for UK lab tests

Cruelly dangled upside down by its tail and swung from side to side... a monkey is ­sickeningly tormented after being snatched from the wild.

With a high-pitched scream the animal is then thrown in a cage and forced to become a breeding machine – churning out babies to be sold across the globe for scientific tests. And thousands are sent to Britain, where the demand from pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies for animals to use in tests is soaring. Figures reveal the UK imported more than 2,000 monkeys from Mauritius in the past year – making snaring an animal from the jungle on the Indian Ocean isle a lucrative business for hunters. Today the Sunday Mirror exposes the cruel ways in which these monkeys are captured and condemned to a life of ­suffering.

Our disturbing pictures were obtained by campaigners from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, which has been working under cover for a year ­investigating the trappers in Mauritius. A covert video shows huntsmen snaring long-tailed macaques – an endangered species – by laying traps baited with ­bananas and sugar cane around the forest where the creatures live.

The trappers are filmed cruelly swinging the animals by their tails – leaving many with injuries and broken limbs. After seeing the shocking footage, ­leading veterinarian Professor Nedim Buyukmihci, of the University of California, told the Sunday Mirror: “Catching and swinging monkeys by the tail is a cruel and ­inappropriate way to treat primates. ­ “Handling could result in injury, ­including the separation of vertebrae in the tail, causing considerable pain.”

In other scenes baby monkeys – some just weeks old – are ripped from their mothers to be exported to a life of ­misery. After being captured they are thrown in lorries and driven to breeding farms, where hundreds live in over-crowded cages producing babies. Disturbing footage obtained from inside one farm shows the distressed monkeys frantically trying to escape their hell as they let out high-pitched cries.

Every day, hundreds are rounded up and packed into wooden crates to be flown to laboratories across the globe, where they are used in agonising live tests by scientists who pay £260 for each monkey. However, cruel farm managers in ­Mauritius spend as little as 5p a day caring for them – making it a lucrative trade. And firms in the UK are among their biggest customers.

Although it is ­illegal to use monkeys caught from the wild in tests here, labs are allowed to import their offspring for experiments. Last year 2,257 ­monkeys were imported into Britain from Mauritius. Only the US bought more.

And during 2008/9 more than 5,000 live tests were carried out on monkeys – a rise of 16 per cent. Tests include horrific experiments where the animals are pumped with massive amounts of drugs to see how long they can survive. Three-quarters of the monkeys are used for toxicology tests on new drugs. The remainder are used in studies for ­conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and Aids. Animals rights ­charities are now ­calling on the ­Government to end the cruel trade. BUAV’s director of special projects Sarah Kite said: “By allowing the importation of monkeys from Mauritius, the UK is fuelling the cruelty ­inflicted on thousands of ­animals.

“This trade is morally unacceptable. We call on the Government to ban the ­importing of these primates and stop ­perpetuating this ­appalling cruelty.” For more information, go to

by Nick Owens


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© Keith Mann