Monkeys Denied Food and Water on 35-Hour Flights to U.S. Labs, Whistleblowers’ Reports to PETA

For Immediate Release:
December 20, 2023

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


A PETA-led coalition of animal protection organizations is calling today for a federal investigation into whistleblowers’ reports that Bluebird Nordic has transported shipments containing as many as 720 monkeys apiece on flights of more than 35 hours without food or water in violation of animal welfare laws and regulations. The whistleblowers alleged that the company then falsified paperwork to cover it up.

PETA—along with Action for Primates, Cheshire Animal Rights Campaigns, One Voice, and Abolición Vivisección—sent a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate.

Animals who aren’t provided with even basic necessities likely aren’t being observed during flights or at refueling stops, also required under federal law. This is particularly concerning given the recently confirmed tuberculosis (TB) cases in monkeys from Mauritius and Southeast Asia, where the Bluebird Nordic flights originated. Denying the monkeys food and water not only violates regulations but also stresses their immune systems, making them more likely to become sick—risking the animals’ and humans’ health.

“Bluebird Nordic is putting terrified, endangered monkeys through hell and risks spreading deadly diseases that are transmissible to humans,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on federal authorities to investigate and crack down on violations before more monkeys are tormented and carelessly transported into the U.S.”

Monkey crates unloaded from a recent Mauritius-to-Barcelona flight. Credit: Abolición Vivisección

The macaque trade is steeped in violence and disease. Typically, monkeys are captured in nature or bred on squalid farms. Those who survive illness and injury are packed into small wooden crates and locked inside dark cargo holds on the first part of a days-long journey to their final destination—laboratories, where they’ll be poisoned, mutilated, and killed.

Earlier this month, PETA urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to suspend all monkey imports after the agency revealed in an online seminar that from 2021 to 2023, there was a shocking increase in imported shipments of monkeys with TB, which is transmissible to humans. Between 2010 and 2020, there were no confirmed cases.

In January 2023, a shipment of macaques from Southeast Asia contained the largest percentage of monkeys infected with TB in the history of importation into the U.S. The 26 infected long-tailed macaques in the shipment harbored a highly infectious TB strain that has never been seen in animals in the U.S.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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