Africa’s Biggest Airline Caught Shipping Endangered Monkeys to Laboratories, PETA Reveals

For Immediate Release:
May 28, 2024

Brandi Pharris 202-483-7382

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Today, PETA is launching a campaign against Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest airline, after learning that the company reportedly flew 250 long-tailed macaques across the Atlantic Ocean to a Florida-based importer that sells monkeys for use in laboratory experiments.

Ethiopian Airlines, which has been implicated in transporting monkeys illegally captured in their forest homes, is one of the last passenger airlines still flying monkeys to their deaths in laboratories. They’re apparently flown on the same planes that carry human passengers.

Importing monkeys poses a grave and potentially fatal public health risk. Monkeys infected with tuberculosis, an infectious disease that’s readily transmitted to humans, have been imported to North American labs from Mauritius. Monkeys from Cambodia have arrived infected with a bacterium so deadly that the U.S. classifies it as a bioterrorism agent.

“The Ethiopian government, which owns the airline, has taken a deadly wrong turn,” says PETA primate scientist Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel. “The trade in monkeys is leading to the destruction of a species and the possible introduction of dangerous zoonotic pathogens to crew members and cargo handlers—as well as the American public.”

Ethiopian Airlines has transported multiple shipments containing hundreds of monkeys who were allegedly illegally taken from their forest homes, according to testimony and evidence presented in the recent federal trial of accused Cambodian monkey smuggler Masphal Kry.

 A long-tailed macaque in a wooden shipping crate. Credit: PETA

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited the airline for multiple violations of animal protection laws, including failing to provide proper feeding and watering instructions for 336 monkeys crammed inside wooden crates and shipped nearly 10,000 miles from Mauritius to Georgia. The monkeys were left on the tarmac of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for at least 95 minutes in 85-degree heat. The airline also imported 584 monkeys into the U.S. without mandatory health certificates, according to federal citations.

Long-tailed macaques are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and experts have pointed to the capture of hundreds of thousands of macaques for use in the experimentation industry as a driving force in the population’s decline.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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