BUAV investigation uncovers UK researchers carrying out experiments on wild-caught baboons in Kenya
A BUAV investigation has uncovered the cruel capture and use of wild baboons in Kenya and the involvement of UK researchers travelling to the country to conduct invasive research. Legislation in Kenya relating to animal experiments is outdated and hopelessly inadequate. Wild baboons are captured and held at the Institute of Primate Research (IPR) under conditions which seriously compromise their welfare and breach international guidelines, before being subjected to disturbing experiments by visiting researchers from the University of Newcastle in the UK and elsewhere.
In the UK, using wild-caught primates in research was effectively banned in 1995, yet researchers from the University of Newcastle are bypassing UK law and are travelling to Kenya to use wild-caught baboons in disturbing and highly invasive experiments. This is also in blatant breach of recent guidance by UK funding bodies which requires UK researchers to maintain UK welfare standards when carrying out experiments abroad.
Key concerns raised by the BUAV include:
The trapping and transportation of wild baboons: taken from the wild, baboons are crammed into small cages and shipped for many hours on the back of pick-up trucks to the IPR. The capture of non-human primates from the wild is cruel and inflicts a great deal of suffering. The substantial negative impact caused by trapping is universally recognised by official bodies and the use of wild-caught primates in research is banned in many countries, including in practice the UK.
The conditions at the IPR: the baboons were held under conditions which seriously compromised their welfare and breached international guidelines, including those of the European Directive and the International Primatological Society. Some of the baboons were housed on their own in barren metal cages with no enrichment. These conditions can cause disturbed abnormal behaviour and some animals were seen pacing and circling. The introduction of baboons to others was often done poorly, resulting in fighting and injuries. Some infants were taken from their mothers at a young age and housed alone.
The experiments carried out at the IPR by researchers from Newcastle University include invasive brain surgery on baboons in which the individual’s head was placed into a stereotaxic frame and held in place whilst the skull was drilled open and parts of the brain removed. The animals were kept alive under anaesthetic for many hours while tests were carried out before being killed. Other brain-damaged baboons were to be kept alive for around 5 weeks - it was acknowledged they might need to be fed with a tube following the surgery.
BUAV Director of Special Projects, Sarah Kite stated: ‘It is a mockery if UK researchers can bypass UK law and use public funds to go overseas to carry out horrific surgery on wild caught primates kept in such appalling conditions. Such practices and conditions would not be allowed in the UK. We urge the UK government to close this unacceptable loophole and for Newcastle University to stop supporting such cruelty and ban its researchers from travelling to Kenya to experiment on baboons.'