PETA to Sec. Buttigieg: Investigate Dangerous Monkey Transport Industry

Documents Show Monkeys Infected With Transmissible Viruses Are Frequently Trucked Across the Country; Practice May Violate DOT Regulations

For Immediate Release:
February 1, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


Monkeys who carry tuberculosis, West Nile virus, malaria, Chagas disease, salmonella, herpes B, and other infectious agents that are transmissible to humans are in U.S. laboratories right now and have been transported via truck throughout the country, documents obtained by PETA reveal. This morning, PETA called on Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to investigate possible violations of hazardous materials transport regulations.

The complaint to the Department of Transportation follows the January 21 crash of a truck carrying 100 monkeys in Pennsylvania. Three monkeys escaped and were shot on orders of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which had determined that they posed a public health risk. The long-tailed macaques, who came from Mauritius, had arrived at JFK International Airport in New York that morning and had not yet been quarantined or tested for any pathogens that could endanger humans. Witnesses say that the crates holding the monkeys had no labels warning of potential danger or even warning that they held monkeys.

PETA has also uncovered e-mails, veterinary forms and records, and other documents showing that monkeys in laboratories and breeding facilities in Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Washington are harboring pathogens that post a risk to humans—and these facilities regularly truck monkeys to laboratories across the country.

“U.S. laboratories haven’t been able to prevent tuberculosis, cholera, campylobacteriosis, Chagas disease, or other deadly pathogens from infecting the monkeys they cage and experiment on—and they still put these monkeys on trucks that travel our highways nationwide,” says primate scientist and PETA science advisor Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, whose book on monkey disease titled Neglected Diseases in Monkeys: From the Monkey-Human Interface to One Health was recently published. “The crash in Pennsylvania has blown the lid off what appear to be critical safety issues in the transport system, and we urge Secretary Buttigieg to investigate immediately.”

In 2019 and 2020 combined, 227 shipments brought 60,546 monkeys to the U.S. from other countries, according the CDC.

According to one 2017 study, “Approximately one-quarter of human deaths caused by infectious disease and nearly 60% of infectious diseases are considered zoonotic (pathogens transmissible between animals and humans) [and] most of these (>70%) are caused by pathogens of wildlife origin. … [M]odern transportation allows emerging diseases to spread along various globally connected networks in a manner of days” [emphasis added].

For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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