The BUAV investigation found that once trapped, these frightened and stressed wild baboons were transported to the Institute of Primate Research (IPR) crammed into wire metal cages on the back of a pick-up truck. Upon arrival, and after unloading the cages from the truck, staff would often kick the side of the transit cages to force the baboons out. Sometimes, the baboons were placed in with unfamiliar individuals inside group pens. As a result, fights occurred and some individuals suffered injuries inflicted by others.
Footage obtained by the BUAV reveals the poor conditions in which the baboons were imprisoned. In the wild, baboons live in large highly structured groups, where social and physical contact is of great importance. In stark contrast, at the IPR these once free-living animals were often kept alone in small barren wire cages, deprived of enrichment; conditions which breach international guidelines and fail to meet their behavioural and social needs.
Some animals presented signs of extreme distress in response to their basic environment, exhibiting abnormal behaviours such as circling and pacing, which is not seen in baboons living freely in the wild. Most disturbing was that some of the adult baboons had been held at the facility for many years – an incomprehensible experience of a lifetime of deprivation and solitude.
The baboons would often try to prevent themselves from being forced forward to the front of the cage (squeeze) for injections. They would sit with their arms stretched to the top of the cage. To 'dislodge' the animals, staff would prod them with wooden poles.
Baboons in recovery following sedation were left to recover on the wire mesh flooring of metal cages. They were not given bedding or protective padding as they came around from the anaesthetic.
Infants separated from their mothers, were observed housed alone or in pairs in barren cages, cowering and huddled together for comfort. In the wild, the weaning of infant baboons from their mothers is a gradual natural process, reaching weaning age at approximately 14 months. The footage suggests that infants younger than this have been removed from their mothers, an extremely traumatising experience for both mother and youngster.
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