PETA Exposé: The CDC Risks Epidemic by Letting Diseased Monkeys Into the U.S.

Published by Keith Brown.

Update (February 6, 2023): Following PETA’s exposé revealing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allowed laboratory-bound monkeys to enter the U.S. infected with deadly pathogens (details are below), the agency has finally acted.

It just revised its regulations and is now requiring facilities that quarantine newly imported monkeys to report symptoms of potentially deadly disease, including diarrhea, fevers, hemorrhaging, abscesses, weight loss, and vomiting.

Yes, it’s insane that this hadn’t been required before, considering that these monkeys—many of whom have been abducted from their forest homes—can carry pathogens and diseases easily transmitted to humans, including Ebola-like viruses, tuberculosis, salmonella, and a bacteria so deadly that it has been classified as a potential bioterrorism weapon.

The agency is also now requiring that any monkey who enters the country infected with malaria be treated for the disease. (Another “duh” moment.) This is first time that the CDC has even acknowledged that imported monkeys may be harboring malaria parasites that could easily be transmitted to humans in the U.S. if mosquitoes here feed on the monkeys and in turn feed on humans.

We welcome the CDC’s late-to-the-party tacit admission that the importation of primates for use in cruel, junk-science experiments that kill monkeys threatens public health. However, the only way to eradicate the risk is to ban this importation. Please take action to help make that happen.


Originally published on December 19, 2022 by Keith Brown. Last updated on January 26, 2023.

NBC News reporter Stephanie Gosk just took viewers into the dark underworld of the nasty international trade in monkey flesh, which nets big money for sellers and new victims for U.S. laboratories. Don’t miss seeing PETA primate scientist Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel make the ethical and scientific case for shutting down this despicable pipeline.

But there’s more to the story—and it could threaten your life.

monkey in shipping crate

As reported by The Guardian, PETA recently obtained damning information revealing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has known that a host of nasty bacteria, including one classified as a bioterrorism agent, regularly enter the U.S. in shipments of monkeys imported for laboratory experiments and that the agency hasn’t bothered to notify the public.

In July, the CDC alerted officials in the Mississippi Delta region to the presence of a bioterrorism agent, a type of bacteria that causes the disease melioidosis, in the soil and water. Melioidosis is associated with a potentially lethal respiratory disease that can kill 10% to 50% of those infected. Yet CDC officials said publicly that the agency had no idea how the bacteria got there, even though it clearly understood that shipments of monkeys were one possible source.

Because of this deception, PETA wrote to CDC officials, demanding that the agency stop playing with fire and immediately ban the importation of all monkeys destined for laboratories across the country in order to eliminate this potential source of the next pandemic.

According to the CDC’s own documents, the agency knew this bacteria was infecting monkeys in Southeast Asia and being carried into U.S. facilities, most recently in 2021.

The bacteria was detected in sick monkeys at Tulane National Primate Research Center in Louisiana in 2015. But the CDC blamed staff error, not imported macaques, even though two years earlier, an imported monkey had brought that same bioterrorism agent into the CDC’s own monkey colony.

On top of the evidence PETA uncovered, a case report just published by individuals working at the CDC, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and monkey-importer Inotiv’s primate quarantine facility in Texas revealed that during 2022, at least four monkeys imported from Cambodia into Texas were released from quarantine labs despite being infected and likely shedding this deadly pathogen. At least six monkeys imported into the U.S. in 2020 and 2021 have been infected with the bacterium.

Documents also show that the CDC knew that imported monkeys carry tuberculosis and other easily transmitted unnamed viruses that cause diarrhea so violent that it sheds the lining of the gut.

The CDC never bothered to make a public announcement about the inherent dangers of these viruses, which have the potential to spark a new pandemic.

monkey smuggled in wooden crate

The agency’s own documents make it glaringly obvious that many of the 100,000 monkeys imported during the COVID-19 pandemic have been moved throughout the U.S., carrying dangerous diseases that can cause severe illness and even death in humans. It’s like playing with matches in a lighter fluid factory.

Coupled with the devastation of wild macaque populations and the zoonotic-disease threat that imported and/or domestic colonies of primates pose to humans, it’s time the CDC did the responsible thing.

What You Can Do

The CDC could shut down all importation of monkeys today, but it chooses instead to keep supporting this violent industry steeped in pain and continues to endanger human health.

Please join more than 45,000 PETA supporters and demand that the CDC end monkey importation immediately.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind