RSPCA demands action on transport of primates

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The Independent Online

More than than a thousand monkeys imported each year for laboratory experiments in Britain suffer cramped and painful conditions during journeys that can take nearly three days, the RSPCA said. The charity called for tighter European regulations on transporting primates, offering them the same protection as farm animals.

Monkeys, which are imported from Mauritius, the Philippines, China, Indonesia and Israel, experience suffering in the same way as humans and some died in transit to Britain, the RSPCA said in its report, Counting the Cost.

Mark Prescott, an RSPCA primatologist, condemned this as "unacceptable". He said: "Primates have an awareness of pain and suffering similar to humans and journeys in cramped crates for up to 70 hours should be banned. It is ludicrous that we have EU transport legislation containing special provisions for farm animals, yet no such provision to protect primates."

The report was launched at the Monkey World sanctuary in Dorset, which rehabilitates primates that have been used in laboratories. The sanctuary's co-founder, Alison Cranin, said: "A large proportion of the public are aware that primates are used in research and hold strong views on the issue, but many will be unaware of the suffering that occurs before they even reach the lab."

The RSPCA report, which is being sent to the Home Office and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, calls for an end to long journey times for transported primates, a ban on the use of monkeys captured from the wild, a review of the need for using monkeys in experiments, and significant improvements in the conditions in laboratories.