Whistleblower: Sickly Monkeys Arrive at Charles River After 40-Hour Flight; PETA Calls For Probe

For Immediate Release:
February 15, 2024

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


PETA is calling on federal authorities to investigate credible whistleblower reports that Bluebird Nordic flew hundreds of monkeys from Vietnam on a flight that took more than 40 hours and included five layovers while they were apparently denied veterinary care.

monkey smuggled in wooden crate
Monkey in a shipping crate, for illustrative purposes only

Today, PETA also urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to inspect Charles River Laboratories’ facility in Houston, where the monkeys were trucked after their flight, reportedly in poor health and confined to fetid-smelling crates. Some appeared to be underweight and suffering from diarrhea, according to whistleblower reports.

Reports also suggest that the facility in Vietnam that supplied the primates doesn’t appear to have the capacity to send out such large numbers of captive-bred monkeys. Charles River’s leadership had previously visited the farm and expressed concerns about the conditions there, reports say.

“Not only is everything about this flight cruel and pointless, it’s also legally suspect from end to end,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on federal authorities to investigate the flight and Charles River and to take immediate and meaningful action on any violations of animal welfare regulations.”

Animals denied basic necessities such as veterinary care likely also aren’t being observed during flights or at refueling stops, as required under federal law, which is particularly concerning given the recently confirmed tuberculosis (TB) cases in monkeys from Mauritius and Southeast Asia, where the Bluebird Nordic flight originated.

Charles River, which is currently under civil and criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for violations of the Endangered Species and Lacey acts, plans to build a massive monkey facility—many times larger than its one in Houston—in Brazoria County, Texas. Thousands of additional monkeys could be flown into the state. The company also recently acknowledged that it’s under investigation by the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission related to its sourcing of monkeys from Asia.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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