NIH Pays Monkey Importer Charles River—Now Under Federal Investigation—Nearly $300 Million in Contracts

PETA Calls On NIH to Cancel Its Contracts and Instead Fund the Lifetime Care of 1,000 Endangered Monkeys Charles River Brought Into the U.S.

For Immediate Release:
April 26, 2023

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Bethesda, Md. – PETA reveals in a letter today that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Charles River Laboratories—which faces ongoing civil and criminal investigations for its possible violations of monkey-importation laws—a staggering $280 million in taxpayer money since 2018 to run multiple laboratories, conduct experiments on animals, and more. In its letter to NIH, PETA urges the agency to reconsider these contracts and pay, along with Charles River, for the lifetime sanctuary care of the 1,000 monkeys the company reportedly brought into the U.S. illegally, whose fate remains uncertain.

“PETA is calling on NIH to reconsider all contracts with Charles River and send the 1,000 monkeys whose fate hangs in the balance to an accredited sanctuary so they can’t be returned to the monkey-smuggling pipeline,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo.

Charles River is responsible for operating part of NIH’s Animal Center campus in Poolesville, Maryland, where hundreds of monkeys are housed and experimented on. The company also runs multiple National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases laboratories in which experiments on ferrets, rabbits, primates, chickens, ducks, mice, and other rodents are conducted in Bethesda, Maryland, and Hamilton, Montana.

PETA’s letter cites serious issues with Charles River’s oversight, including the escape of a monkey infected with tuberculosis into the laboratory’s HVAC system, posing a threat to humans. The company further admits that imported monkeys may carry dangerous diseases that are transmissible to humans. NIH labs run by Charles River have had multiple animal welfare violations that resulted in the deaths of animals.

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued indictments against Cambodian officials and nationals for allegedly selling monkeys abducted from their forest homes. Like the monkeys caught up in the laundering scheme alleged in the indictments, the origin of the 1,000 monkeys in Charles River’s hands appears to be under investigation.

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 Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind