Video Exposé: Secretive Monkey Imports Threaten Human Health, Wildlife Populations

For Immediate Release:
July 7, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


In a new video exposé and a letter just sent to Christopher Braden, acting director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PETA is taking aim at the grave public health, safety, and conservation concerns posed by the international monkey trade. PETA is calling on Braden to expand the CDC’s ban on importing primates for “pets” to those slated for experiments, too.

“The scientific community has known for decades that the monkey model fails to provide meaningful treatments and vaccines for humans,” writes PETA Senior Science Advisor Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel. “The commercial importation of monkeys is a secretive, dangerous, unethical, and financially lucrative enterprise for several major companies. However, U.S. residents may be paying the price for this industry’s practices.”

Although the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration admit that 95% of all new drugs that test safe and effective in animals are either unsafe or ineffective in humans, tens of thousands of laboratory-bound primates are imported into the U.S. every year, confined for days to cramped, wooden crates in airplane cargo holds and trailer trucks. PETA’s letter to the CDC outlines the following:

  • Primates ripped from their forest homes and bred and confined in squalid, commercial facilities pose one of the greatest risks for zoonotic disease and may carry infectious diseases including salmonella, Ebola-like viruses, herpes B virus, yellow fever virus, malaria, deadly diarrheal pathogens, and many other pathogens and diseases.
  • Importers that transport macaques throughout the U.S. to undisclosed locations are solely responsible for health screening and illness detection during the mandated 31-day quarantine period—yet international and domestic quarantines often fail to identify even highly studied illnesses, like tuberculosis, in monkeys used in laboratories. Reports show that primates also may develop illnesses after the quarantine period that are caused by infectious agents listed by the CDC as Tier 1 agents that require enhanced security measures.
  • Veterinary inspections frequently fail to occur within the required 10-day period before shipment, and the inspectors are often small-animal practitioners without primate experience.
  • The trade has devastated the wild macaque population: As revealed in PETA’s video exposé, narrated by international superstar actor Kate del Castillo, hunters in Indonesia and elsewhere trap mother monkeys in crates, tear their babies away from them, and stuff them into bags to be exported overseas.

“It’s time to shut down this cruel industry,” del Castillo says in the video. “Sick and diseased monkeys … endure invasive surgeries, toxic chemical exposure, and conditions that drive them insane. All this just for experiments that science itself has shown fail to lead to cures and treatments for humans.”

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

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