TV presenter Chris Packham has said ‘NON!’ to cruel Air France monkey shipments as part of a week of action organised by the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) during its annual Lab Animal Week, which is now in its 35th year.
Lab Animal Week runs from 21st-27th April and was founded by the NAVS to highlight the suffering of animals used for unreliable and unnecessary tests. Air France became the last remaining passenger airline shipping monkeys to laboratories when China Southern Airlines updated its policy earlier this year.
NAVS Chief Executive, Jan Creamer: “We are very glad of Chris’s support to raise awareness of the cruel lab monkey trade. Our investigations show that lab monkeys endure brutal lives on breeding farms. When the day comes, they are placed into tiny boxes and flown to laboratories; many have died en route. Please join Chris and the NAVS to help monkeys this Lab Animal Week by letting Air France know you will refuse to fly with them until they stop.”
In 2012, the number of monkeys experimented on in the UK rose by nearly 50% to over 2,000. In the same year, 1,500 monkeys were imported into the UK for experiments; two out of three came from Mauritius.
Before monkeys reach the laboratory, many are subjected to harsh conditions on breeding farms in Mauritius. The NAVS investigations have revealed how pregnant monkeys are manhandled and swung by their tails; newborn babies are torn from their mothers to be pinned down and tattooed for identification; animals are wrenched from cages by their tails and subjected to terrifying tests. The barren environment they are subjected to contrasts starkly with how the inquisitive and intelligent animals would live in the wild.
When the time comes to send them to the laboratory, breeders lock the monkeys into crates barely bigger than their bodies. Long tailed macaques are known to deal poorly with stress and struggle to cope with the long journey, some die before they reach their destination.
In the UK, and despite the availability of advanced alternatives, monkeys are used mainly to test drugs, with animals typically enduring force-feeding or injections of experimental compounds; and immobilisation by being strapped into chairs. Investigations by the NAVS have found monkeys suffering rectal prolapse from the stress of being restrained, others suffered blackened lungs, trembling, collapse, bleeding and self-mutilation. The next largest area of primate use in the UK is neurology, which can involve electrodes and bolts being screwed into the monkeys’ heads.
There are a growing number of alternatives to using monkeys in experiments. These provide data based on likely effects in humans, rather than in monkeys, therefore avoiding the misleading results and past disasters when results from monkeys have been applied to humans.
Members of the public can find out more and take part in the week of action against Air France at labanimalweek.org and on Twitter using #nonairfrance #labanimalweek.