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Captive Cruelty

The BUAV exposes the shocking plight of wild baboons in Kenya. Snatched from the wild to be used in research and kept in conditions that breach international animal welfare guidelines.  

Captive Cruelty is a hard-hitting investigation carried out by the BUAV in Kenya. The investigation uncovered disturbing evidence of the poor conditions in which wild-caught olive baboons (Papio anubis) are being held at the Institute of Primate Research (IPR), and the terrible fate which awaits them. Legislation in Kenya relating to animal experiments is outdated and hopelessly inadequate. Yet wild baboons, and other primates such as African green monkeys, are captured and held in conditions which compromise their welfare and breach international guidelines, before being subjected to disturbing research.

Our major concerns include:

The findings from our investigation raise major concerns about the trapping of wild baboons, and the associated welfare issues surrounding the trauma and stress of being torn from their homes and families, and imprisoned in solitary and barren conditions awaiting their fate for use in research. The BUAV believes that the Institute of Primate Research is breaching international animal welfare guidelines in regard to the captive care of nonhuman primates.

Baboons are highly social and inquisitive animals, living in groups of up to 150 individuals. When torn away from their family groups and caged in captivity, they are left to suffer an unimaginably cruel life of solitude and deprivation.

Wild Caught Issue

The capture of wild primates is internationally recognised by a number of official bodies as a trade that inflicts great suffering on animals who are taken from their natural habitat. In 1995, the UK government banned the use of wild-caught primates and its own advisory committee stated: ‘trapping wild primates can cause significant distress, suffering and physical injury.’

Yet, despite the UK ban on the use of wild-caught primates in research, researchers from the University of Newcastle have carried out highly invasive brain surgery on baboons at the IPR. It is unacceptable that researchers from publicly funded institutions like the, University of Newcastle, are able to travel to countries like Kenya, with outdated and inadequate animal welfare legislation, and conduct experiments on wild-caught primates.


All nonhuman primates are currently listed as either endangered or potentially endangered species under the Convention on The International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Trade in Appendix I species is only authorised in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II species are not necessarily threatened with extinction in the immediate future, but may become so unless trade is subject to strict regulation’. Olive Baboons (Papio anubis) are categorised as Appendix II species.

More on captive cruelty 

Captive Conditions – How the wild primates suffer in captivity
Baboons in Research – What happens to primates in the laboratory
Image Gallery – The sad plight of baboons in Kenya
Celebrity support for Captive Cruelty - These high profile figures have helped us raise awareness