Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

International Primate Day highlights plight of thousands of primates used for animal testing

Posted: 1 September 2011. Updated: 1 September 2011

The UK Government is currently considering new rules on animal testing, and has launched a public consultation

Earlier this year saw the release of three lucky little ex-laboratory monkeys – ‘Baloo, Betty and Boo’ – by Animal Defenders International (ADI) into a new specially built enclosure at a monkey sanctuary in Berkshire.

Their release was especially poignant as it came at the same time that Government began to consider new rules for the use and treatment of laboratory monkeys and other animals. The Home Office launched a public consultation exercise, which is due to close next week.

As part of International Primate Day on the 1st September, ADI is calling for people to spare a thought for the thousands of monkeys currently languishing in UK animal testing laboratories, and is urging them to take part in the Government’s consultation while there is still time.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s Chief Executive said: “These three monkeys have been very lucky, but let’s not forget the other animals and take the opportunity to remind the UK Government that the primary focus of the new EU Directive on animal testing that they are implementing into UK law is the protection of intelligent living, feeling animals, and the adoption of modern, sophisticated, non-animal methods”.

“We hope that people will send an overwhelming message to the Government to take steps to end experiments on monkeys – once and for all. We urge members of the public to find time this week to respond to Government’s proposals on the Directive, and ensure that they speak up for both the protection of primates, who suffer so much in laboratories, and for the adoption of modern non-animal methods.”

The monkeys were rescued from a Swedish laboratory where they had been held for six years after being supplied by an animal dealer in Israel. The monkeys are now called Baloo, Betty, and Boo, putting any experimental connotations of their names well behind them.

The monkeys were born of parents that had been trapped in the wild, a trade that the new EU rules are specifically targeting for a phase out. These are known as F1 monkeys (first generation of wild caught parents).

Their parents were torn from the wild in Mauritius, packed into crates and sent to a breeding facility for monkeys, near Tel Aviv, Israel. In late 2001, Baloo, Betty and Boo were born, about a month apart, being described as “half-siblings”. As each approached their second birthday they were sold to a Swedish laboratory and in October 2003, they were packed in crates and flown to Holland and then taken by road to the laboratory.

Because of the terrible suffering and environmental damage caused by the wild-capture of monkeys, the new European Directive proposes a timetable to phase out capturing wild monkeys to restock breeding farms. The Government recently revealed that more than half the monkeys supplied to the UK are born of wild caught parents (F1).

A global investigation of the laboratory monkey trade by ADI revealed horrific suffering in the UK’s largest monkey laboratory (Huntingdon Life Sciences), deplorable conditions in Home Office inspected overseas dealers supplying UK labs and the terror of monkeys being torn from their forest homes to supply animal research.

Jan said: “For many years the animal experimentation industry has claimed not to use wild caught monkeys. In fact they allow international dealers to do the dirty work for them, constantly trapping wild animals to restock their factory farms before selling the infants to laboratories. It is vital that the Government closes this loophole.

“The monkeys we released earlier this year are very lucky and have a wonderful life ahead of them. However, they symbolise the animals suffering in a very cruel and ruthless industry. Around 10,000 monkeys are used in European laboratories each year, with almost 3,000 used in the UK alone.”

In the Swedish laboratory, the monkeys were used in neurology experiments and given trace doses of substances. By 2009, they were no longer needed in these tests, although they continued to be used for supplies of blood for other experiments.

Supporters of Swedish animal rights group Djurrattsalliansen wrote letters to the laboratory urging them to hand over the animals and their release was negotiated by ADI. At just 9 years old, Baloo, Betty and Boo, could live to the age of 30, and so have the prospect of many happy years in a large natural enclosure at the monkey sanctuary, funded completely by ADI.

Jan said: “Against all the odds, these three little monkeys now have a future and will grow old in peace and safety, where they have the finest expert care in a tranquil woodland setting. Please now spare a thought for the thousands of others still in laboratories or being taken from the wild and provide Government with your views.”

Tim Phillips, ADI’s Campaigns Director said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the Government to protect laboratory animals, stimulate advanced scientific techniques, and keep Britain in the forefront of international developments. Alternative methods can provide robust, relevant and accurate results faster and more cost effectively, without animal suffering.

“The public consultation offers a chance for members of the public to voice their opinion on the subject of animal testing and pressure the Government to do the right thing for animal protection and welfare.

“We urge everyone to take part in this consultation by visiting the Home Office website or in writing to make your feelings known. Let’s give all of the millions of animals currently languishing in research laboratories the length and breadth of the country the voice that they so desperately need and insist the UK Government moves to bring in advanced techniques that are better for people, and save animals”

To ensure you have your say go to:

Or write to: Animals Scientific Procedures Division, Home Office, 4th floor, south-west Seacole building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF, email:

The consultation closes next Monday, 5th September, so don’t delay, write today.

If people would like to help please call 020 7630 3340, or email or go to:

The deadline for transposition is November 2012 and all Member States will have to apply the provisions as of 1st January 2013.


Interview opportunities are available.

Media Contact:
Phil Buckley, Media Relations Director, Animal Defenders International, 0207 630 3344, 07716 018250,

About Animal Defenders International (ADI):

With offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, Animal Defenders International (ADI) campaigns to protect animals in entertainment; replacement of animals in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI also rescues animals in distress worldwide. ADI-gathered evidence has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them.

ADI’s Mission: To educate, create awareness, and promote the interest of humanity in the cause of justice, and the suppression of all forms of cruelty to animals wherever possible to alleviate suffering, and to conserve and protect animals and the environment.


EU Directive 2010/63/EU was passed on the 22nd September 2010, and was the result of 7 years of discussion and debate on the rules on animal experiments. The new Directive will replace the regulations under the UK’s Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Home Office is the lead department on this matter. The minister responsible is Lynne Featherstone.

The latest EU statistics show that in the 27 EU member states, 12,001,022 animals were used. The latest Home Office statistics show that in the UK, 3,541,252 animals were used.

Animals are different from humans in many ways, which affects the scientific reliability of data gathered from experiments conducted upon them. These species differences include:

  • Herpes B causes lesions in monkeys, but they may carry the virus without suffering the disease itself. Sadly in humans, although the disease is rare, it is nearly always fatal
  • TGN1412 caused near-fatal reactions in human drug trial volunteers, even after the drug had been tested in macaques at doses 500 times higher.
  • Fialuridine, a vaccine for hepatitis B caused the deaths of 5 people and serious illness in others even though it was tested on dogs, rats and monkeys
  • Tamoxifen, the drug for breast cancer, was designed as a contraceptive. Although it acts this way in rats, it has the opposite effect in humans. Now used to treat breast cancer, it has caused cancer in rats in certain studies.

There are numerous efficient, accurate, fast and reliable alternatives to the use of animals. These include human tissue cultures, in vitro and in silico methods, micro-dosing of human volunteers, epidemiological studies and innovative imaging techniques.


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