Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

International Primate Day 2019, September 1

Posted: 30 August 2019. Updated: 30 August 2019


This International Primate Day on September 1, Animal Defenders International is calling on the UK Government to explain the huge increase in the number of monkeys born to wild-caught parents used in research, and the US Congress to take a stand against the high, and growing, number of primates used in research.

In the UK

A total of 246 offspring of wild-caught monkeys, known as “F1” primates, their parents “F0”, were used in Britain laboratories last year, accounting for some 10% of all primate use.

Under EU law, the use of F1 primates is being phased out and will not be permitted after November 2022. With no F1 primates used in British labs during 2014-2016, and one individual used in 2017, it seemed that the UK Government was moving towards this deadline. There are concerns this could spiral out of control if there is de-regulation and an abandoning of EU rules after Brexit.


A total of 2,606 long-tailed macaques, including the F1 primates, were imported into Britain last year, 2,064 from Mauritius and 542 from Vietnam.

More than a decade ago, the European Parliament passed Written Declaration 40/2007, calling for a timetable to replace the use of primates within the EU, but a strategy has yet to be published.

The UK is sadly one of the largest primate users in Europe, with latest figures showing 2,472 individuals were used in British laboratories, an increase of 12%.

In the US

According to the latest (2017) figures, 75,825 primates were used in US laboratories, an increase of more than 6% over 2016. The same year, a total of 21,861 primates were imported into the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, and Quarantine and Border Health Services Branch.

Most of the imported primates (20,110) were long-tailed macaques, one of the most commonly used species in research.

ADI Investigations


ADI has conducted investigations of primate suppliers around the world. At Biodia, a key breeding facility in Mauritius – one of the world’s largest suppliers – ADI filmed baby monkeys being torn from their screaming mothers to be tattooed, pregnant monkeys manhandled and pinned down, and monkeys swung by their tails. At supplier Nafovanny in Vietnam, ADI filmed monkeys living in deplorable conditions, with some animals confined to small rusting cages that were in a state of collapse.

Use of primates for safety testing of substances

Last year in the UK, most primates (2,148) were used for regulatory safety testing of substances, and in US laboratories, many primates will be used for the same purposes. For such tests, primates will typically endure force-feeding or injections of experimental compounds and full body immobilization in restraint chairs during experiments. Side effects can include rectal prolapse, vomiting, blocked lungs, collapse, self-mutilation, and death.

Majority of the Public against Primate Testing

Most people in the US believe the use of any primate in research to be unacceptable. More than 80% of the UK public consider the use of primates to be unacceptable, providing a mandate for government and funding bodies to replace their use with advanced, scientific, human relevant methods. In response to ADI’s call for the UK Government to phase out primate use, the Home Office has however stated that it has “no plans to phase out the use of primates in animal research.”

Species Differences

Due to species differences, tests in primates and other animals have been shown to produce misleading results – replacing primates tests with more sophisticated human-based techniques provides results that are more relevant to people.

Supporting measures to accelerate a “move away from animal models towards more human-relevant research methods”, nearly one hundred (96) academics, scientists, institutions, companies, organisations and celebrities have signed up to the Declaration for Advanced Science. Launched earlier this year by ADI, Declaration signatories include Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Marc Bekoff; Professor of Pharmaceutical Analysis Laura Waters; Consultant Haematologist Dr Shireen Kassam; Microbiologist Dr Warren Casey; Senior Cell and Molecular Biologist Dr Pelin L Candarlioglu; Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics Andrew Knight; and Emerita Professor of Anthropology Barbara King. The full and current list of signatories can be viewed here.

How You Can Help Primates

  • If you live in the UK, ask your MP to urge the government to explain the shocking rise in the use of monkeys born to wild-caught parents and for advanced methods to be used instead. Template letter here
  • If you live in the US, ask your Congressmember to support a phase out of primate use and urge that advanced methods be used instead. Template letter here
  • Wherever you live urge your legislators to call for and support a phase out of primate tests.
  • Help expose the needless suffering – share our undercover video
  • Support our campaign to save the primates

© Animal Defenders International 2019