A long-tailed macaque family
© iStock.com/OlgaArkhipenko

PETA’s Plan to Save 1,000 Illegally Trafficked Macaques

Issue 4|Autumn 2023

One thousand endangered long-tailed macaques are stuck in primate purgatory. Each one is an individual with a family, friends, and feelings. But fear and loneliness are all they have known since the day they were allegedly snatched from their forest homes in Cambodia.

Torn from their troops and crammed into crates, the animals endured a harrowing 8,000-mile cargo flight to the US, frightened, hungry, thirsty, and mired in their own waste the whole way. A greedy company called Charles River Laboratories imported them, with plans to sell them to laboratories to be experimented on and eventually killed after a wretched life. As one of the largest breeders and importers of monkeys into the US, Charles River supplies half of all experimentation victims.

The monkey-abduction pipeline also tears families apart in Indonesia, as shown in this photo taken by Action for Primates.

Charles River’s Dirty Secrets Exposed

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) blocked Charles River from selling the monkeys for experiments – likely because it had illegally imported them – and the company is now under federal criminal and civil investigation. Meanwhile, the monkeys remain imprisoned in barren steel cages – deprived of fresh air, sunlight, room to move or stretch, and the opportunity to do anything these smart and social animals enjoy. But PETA is determined to get them out.

A Double Betrayal

Charles River reportedly attempted to quietly ship the 1,000 monkeys back to Cambodia. But it wouldn’t have been a happy homecoming for these animals. Instead, they likely would have been sent straight back into the hands of the smugglers, putting them at risk of enduring yet another grueling journey to yet another laboratory to be tested on and killed. Charles River no doubt planned to pocket the cash from selling them.

PETA could not let that happen. On the day of the planned transport back to Cambodia, PETA supporters gathered at Charles River’s Houston facility to protest the export. Thousands more of our supporters e-mailed and called US agencies in opposition to the shipment. It worked: None of the monkeys went anywhere!

PETA supporters demonstrate outside the Department of Interiors
PETA members hold a vigil outside the US Department of the Interior to demand that the government compel Charles River to release the monkeys.

Held Hostage, Far From Home

But the monkeys remain in limbo. They can’t be returned to their homes because no one knows for sure where they were stolen from, and they have been robbed of the social stability and structure that they would need to survive on their own. So PETA has worked with Born Free USA, a lush, 175-acre haven in Texas, to come up with a plan to offer permanent refuge. We wait, impatiently.

PETA has pledged $1 million to make this happen, and nearly 65,000 people have joined in calling for the monkeys’ release. Yet Charles River has refused to lift a finger or spend a cent to right the enormous wrongs it has done to these vulnerable animals, even though funding their lifetime care at a sanctuary wouldn’t cause so much as a blip in this oppressive, multibillion-dollar corporation’s bottom line.

Laws Violated, Monkeys Neglected to Death

Import laws aren’t the only ones Charles River seems to disdain. PETA has previously exposed its cruelty and negligence: It boiled one monkey alive when workers ran his cage through a high-temperature washer with the animal still inside. It baked 32 others to death when a thermostat malfunctioned and no one noticed. When a marmoset infected with tuberculosis escaped into an HVAC system, workers gave up after a day of trying to lure him out and gassed him to death by flooding the ducts with carbon dioxide. And on and on.

We Must Cut Off the Gravy Train

In spite of all this – and its own admission that experimenting on animals is a waste of time and money that does not improve human health – the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has paid Charles River $280 million in taxpayer money since 2018 to run several of its laboratories.

PETA has pledged $1 million toward sending monkeys to Born Free’s spacious sanctuary.

PETA is demanding that NIH cancel its contracts with this serial animal abuser. We’re also calling on the FWS to prohibit Charles River from importing monkeys and compel the company to release the 1,000 monkeys to a sanctuary, where they could climb trees, forage for fruits and flowers, groom and play with friends and family, and experience some of the life that Charles River has stolen from them.

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