Skip navigation.

Sponsored by

English summary

Summary: The monkey suppliers

Whether wild-caught or captive-bred, the majority of monkeys used in Europe are imported from China, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mauritius, Kenya, Israel and Guyana. The monkeys endure long, arduous journeys, isolated, trapped in small boxes, fearful.

The cynomolgus macaque, the most commonly used species of lab monkey in Europe, has been described as the macaque species least able to respond satisfactorily to transport.

Supply facilities in Europe are mainly holding centres for monkeys who come from thousands of miles away. For example, the Noveprim facility in Spain is a doorway to Europe for monkeys from Mauritius, where the supplier is known to supplement its breeding stock with wild-caught animals.

Indeed, the vast majority of primates feeding Europe’s laboratories are offspring born of wild-caught parents (referred to as “F1”). Only the prohibition of the F1 animals will put pressure on suppliers not to regard the world’s wild monkeys as their own resource to harvest. The seven year phase out of the use of F1 primates in

Europe in the proposed Directive to replace 86/609 must be fully implemented without loopholes; it would be preferable for this to be brought forward.
In addition to the long journeys, consideration should be given to the standards of care and accommodation for these animals at the supply source, and whether it is possible to impose modern standards of accommodation and care on a foreign supplier.

For example, Nafovanny in Vietnam is a huge exporter of monkeys to Europe and the USA. It is, of course, well outside the jurisdiction of the European Parliament or Member States. Behind an initially smart exterior and whitewashed office buildings, in 2008 ADI found monkeys in small wire mesh pens with concrete floors and little enrichment. This would fall well below modern zoo standards.

At the rear of the facility, monkeys were kept alone, in rusty cages under a metre tall – the animals could barely stand up. Some cages were in a state of collapse – leaning at uncomfortable, extreme angles. Yet this facility is approved by the UK’s Home Office as an official laboratory monkey supplier.

The UK’s Animal Procedures Committee has concluded:
The inspectorate has no jurisdiction outside the UK, and therefore, where animals are supplied from outside the UK, any site visits by the Inspectorate depends on negotiation and cooperation”.

In 2005 the UK’s Home Office stated “before primates can be acquired from an overseas breeding centre it is necessary for the Home Office to have appraised and accepted the use of that centre in order to ensure compliance with the section of the Home Office Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Animals in designated Breeding and Supplying Establishments (1995 HC 125) pertaining to the import of primates” , and: “In effect we will only allow the use of animals from overseas centres we believe produce purpose-bred animals to acceptable welfare standards”.

In March 2005 an inspection of the Nafovanny facility in Long Thanh identified, “shortcomings in animal accommodation and care” and the centre was notified that its “status as an approved centre would cease” once all existing orders for primates had been filled. By the end of 2005 however, the Home Office had received “reassurances and evidence that significant improvements had been made”, and concluded that Nafovanny could meet the required standard. Permission was given for them to continue to supply to the UK. The evidence upon which this decision was based, was “unedited video footage, photographs and reports”.

The evidence of our 2008 inspection of Nafovanny would indicate that assertions of government control over standards of welfare at foreign suppliers are more of a public relations exercise, than enforcement of measures to uphold scientific standards and animal welfare.

In the year up to June 2008, at least 476 monkeys were supplied by Nafovanny in Vietnam to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in the UK.

The monkeys were flown from Ho Chi Minh to France and then taken by road to England. HLS understood the journey to take about 30 hours. On arrival most monkeys were frightened and hid at the back of the box; injuries from the journey included abrasions to heads and faces.

Watch our Save the Primates Video

You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video.