Virus Could Thrive in Texas Monkey Facilities

PETA Files Shareholder Resolution Calling On Animal-Testing Behemoth to Address Risk Posed by Imported Monkeys Housed in Cramped, Humid Outdoor Enclosures

For Immediate Release:
March 14, 2016

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Alice, Texas

This morning, PETA—which owns a small amount of stock in Covance’s parent company, LabCorp, for the purpose of addressing shareholder directly on animal test issues—submitted a shareholder resolution calling on the $2.5 billion animal-testing company to report to stockholders about its plans to address the public-health threat posed by the Zika virus at its enormous monkey-import facility in Alice, Texas. Health officials have already confirmed 22 cases of the disease in the state.

In its resolution, PETA notes that Covance’s facility, which imports and confines thousands of monkeys from countries on high alert for Zika, is located in the Texas Gulf Coast region, where the warm and humid climate, no dry season, and surrounding grasslands provide ideal mosquito-breeding conditions. Covance’s compound houses more than 5,000 cynomolgus and 5,000 rhesus macaques—both natural Zika hosts—in outdoor, open-air pens where they could easily be bitten by an infected mosquito.

“The virus can spread from the monkeys, through mosquitoes, to people far from the facility—presenting a very real risk to people in Texas, especially women,” says Dr. Jan Hajek, clinical assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of British Columbia.

“Covance’s humid open-air cages could easily become a reservoir for the Zika virus, infecting thousands of monkeys, human employees, and neighbors alike,” says PETA Director of Laboratory Investigations Justin Goodman. “PETA is calling on LabCorp to divulge what measures it’s taking to prevent, detect, and control the spread of this dangerous virus.”

PETA has also sent letters alerting state public health officials and county commissioners to the potential threat posed by monkey facilities in Alice operated by Covance and its competitor, SNBL USA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that human and nonhuman primates are “the main reservoir of the [Zika] virus,” and at a day-long National Academy of Sciences workshop on the virus held last month, experts voiced concern over the potential for it to establish an infection cycle in nonhuman primates, which could then have a long-term impact on human disease.

PETA’s shareholder resolution and letters to state and county officials are available upon request. For more information, please visit

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