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BUAV welcomes move by Air Canada to end transport of monkeys


The BUAV has welcomed a move by Air Canada to stop the transportation of primates for research. Air Canada has filed an amended tariff with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) that would enable it to discontinue the transportation of primates destined for research. Air Canada has stated: “It was a decision taken both to align our policies with those of many other major international carriers and in response to widespread public concern.” However, the CTA announced this week that it was suspending Air Canada's amended tariff pending a hearing on this proposed new policy.

The BUAV's long-running campaign has been responsible for exposing the role that passenger airlines play in the international trade in primates for research. Last year, we revealed the transportation by Air Canada of a shipment of 48 monkeys from a breeding farm in China to a laboratory in Montreal. The revelation resulted in widespread publicity and caused an outcry across Canada. A subsequent campaign by the BUAV resulted in groups and individuals from around the world contacting Air Canada requesting that it stop transporting primates for the research industry.

Michelle Thew, BUAV Chief Executive, stated: "We welcome this move by Air Canada to join the increasing number of airlines that have taken the decision to dissociate themselves from the cruelty and suffering that are intrinsic to this industry. This is an issue of strong public concern."

The international trade in primates for research is a global industry that involves misery, suffering and death on a massive scale. Thousands of monkeys are trapped in the wild, ripped from their family groups and native habitats; others are bred in captivity. The capture and confinement of such primates causes anxiety and stress. Transportation by air serves only to exacerbate these problems and contributes to further suffering. Primates destined for the research industry are packed into small wooden crates (usually too small to allow them to stand up) and travel as cargo, predominantly on passenger air flights to destinations around the world. In addition to the cramped conditions, the monkeys may have to endure delays, inadequate ventilation, noise and extreme temperature fluctuations as they are shipped on extremely long journeys to research laboratories across the world.

Airlines to have stopped transporting primates for research include British Airways, United Airlines, Northwest Airlines, South African Airways, Delta Airlines, Eva Air, China Airlines, American Airlines and Caribbean Airlines. There is now only a small number of passenger airlines that continues to be involved in this grim business. This includes Air France, Vietnam Airlines, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Air China.

This story has also been reported in The Star.