Charles River Laboratories is the second-largest importer of nonhuman primates into the U.S., bringing in thousands of monkeys who have been taken from their families in the wild or bred on decrepit monkey factory farms in China, Mauritius, and Vietnam. According to federal reports, Charles River used 9,231 nonhuman primates in 2017 to test pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and food additives. It imprisoned an additional 1,948 nonhuman primates for other purposes, including breeding. In its tests, animals are force-fed compounds, experimental chemicals are smeared onto their shaved skin, and they are forced to inhale toxic substances. The primates may endure severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, convulsions, seizures, paralysis, or bleeding from the nose, mouth, and genitals before they ultimately die or are killed. It’s uncommon for animals in these tests to be given any form of pain-relieving drugs, as they are considered to interfere with the data obtained from the animals. As is always the case with animal experimentation, the wishes of the experimenters are placed above the basic needs and interests of the animals.
A summary of Charles River’s federal inspection reports reads like a criminal indictment: failure to offer adequate veterinary care, failure to provide suffering animals with pain relief, failure to ensure the psychological well-being of primates, and pathological neglect resulting in horrific deaths of animals. In 2009, a monkey was scalded to death when her cage was run through a high-temperature mechanical cage washer—while she was still locked inside. In 2008, Charles River was fined $10,000 after 32 monkeys at its Nevada facility were baked alive when a thermostat malfunctioned and no one noticed.