Covance Cruelty—Here’s How PETA Has Squared Up to the Shady Supplier and Lab-for-Hire

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Covance—a longtime PETA target that is both a laboratory-for-hire and a shady dealer of monkeys, dogs, and rabbits to laboratories—has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice over what we suspect is monkey trafficking.

Covance’s Cruelty as an Animal Supplier and Contract Testing Facility

Covance began by breeding and selling dogs, rabbits, and monkeys for experimentation as well as importing and warehousing monkeys and testing everything from new pharmaceutical drugs and industrial chemicals to cosmetics on monkeys, dogs, rabbits, and other animals for client companies.

At one point, Covance was one of the world’s largest contract testing companies and the largest importer of monkeys into the U.S. for use in experiments (in Covance’s own laboratories and to sell to other labs). The company also boasted about being one of the largest purveyors of purpose-bred dogs for experimental use.

For decades, PETA has vigorously campaigned against Covance, including publishing damning investigations into multiple Covance facilities and getting help from Sir Paul McCartney.

Here’s How PETA Squared Up to Covance:

  • In 1989, Covance—then known as Hazleton Laboratories—imported three shipments of monkeys infected with Ebola. The buildings housing the monkeys (in Reston, Virginia) were evacuated, the monkeys were killed, and the premises were sealed and sanitized. PETA subsequently joined forces with the International Primate Protection League in calling for a ban on importing monkeys for experimentation.
  • In May 2005, PETA released the findings of an 11-month undercover investigation into a Covance facility in Vienna, Virginia. The video footage from the investigation revealed workers tormenting monkeys, hitting them, throwing them against cages, and screaming at them. The facility deprived sick and injured monkeys of veterinary care. Experimenters dosed monkeys with experimental compounds. The investigator also noted monkeys suffering from laboratory-induced insanity (indicated by excessive rocking and spinning) as well as sick and dying primates. PETA filed complaints with federal agencies, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited and fined Covance for serious violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
  • After PETA released our 2005 investigation report, Covance attempted to stop PETA Europe from distributing the video footage. A U.K. judge described the footage as “highly disturbing,” noting the stark difference between Covance’s claims regarding its treatment of animals and the horrific abuse revealed in our investigation. The judge permitted PETA Europe to continue showing the investigation footage, and Covance was required to pay PETA Europe to cover legal fees.
  • In July 2005, PETA bought stock in Covance to take a seat at the table and speak up for animals suffering in Covance laboratories.
  • In August 2005, we mobilized activists—including Sir Paul McCartney—to campaign against the company’s plans to build a new laboratory in Chandler, Arizona. We met with city officials and editors of local papers, held news conferences, organized protests, and did much more. Although the Chandler laboratory opened in March 2009, the company announced in May 2012 that it would be closing the facility due to weak demand for its early development toxicology services.
  • In 2010, Covance closed its Vienna laboratory, where PETA had blown the lid off the shocking abuse of monkeys. The cruel company’s plans to build a new $175 million laboratory complex in Prince William County’s technology park were also scuttled.
  • PETA has extensively documented Covance’s numerous and egregious violations of animal welfare laws, including the following:
    • In December 2021, Covance was cited after staff broke the limb of a monkey through careless and apparently violent mishandling. The company was cited for similar incidents in July 2021, May 2019, and September 2015.
    • In June 2019, Covance was cited after staff failed to feed 25 macaques for a period of six days. Two of the monkeys had to be euthanized.
    • In June 2016, the USDA fined Covance $31,500 after 13 macaque monkeys died of hyperthermia in two separate incidents in which no one noticed that thermostats had malfunctioned.
    • In March 2012, Covance was cited for housing a monkey in isolation for nearly eight months, with no explanation for why this animal was being denied companionship.
    • In February 2012, the USDA cited the company because a monkey died after becoming entangled in an “enrichment” device in his cage.
    • And there have been other incidents.

animal torture devices used on monkeys in labs covance

  • Covance’s CEO, Paul Kirchgraber, was named one of the 12 worst CEOs for animals in laboratories on PETA’s “Dirty Dozen” list. We called out the executive for Covance’s widespread abuse of other animals.
  • Covance was featured in PETA’s list of “Terrible 10” companies that capture, breed, and sell sensitive monkeys to U.S. laboratories for experimentation. We called out the company—which, at one point, was the largest importer of primates into the U.S.—for collecting millions of tax dollars from the National Institutes of Health, which conducts its own extremely cruel and wasteful experiments on monkeys.
  • In 2016, PETA called attention to the possibility that the colonies of monkeys imprisoned in Covance’s open-air facility in Alice, Texas, could function as a reservoir of the Zika virus. In a shareholder resolution to the company, we called on it to report to stockholders about its plans to address the public-health threat posed by the virus at its facility.
  • In 2022, nearly every major airline refuses to transport other primates destined for laboratories, thanks to our relentless campaigning.

How to Help PETA Free Animals Stuck at Covance

Our fellow primates don’t want to be bred for experimentation or abducted from their homes and shipped to laboratories, where experimenters lock them inside cages and conduct painful, traumatizing experiments on them. You can help them by telling airlines such as EGYPTAIR to stop transporting them to their deaths:

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