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BUAV investigation results in commitment from Newcastle University to end experiments on wild-caught baboons in Kenya


The BUAV has today welcomed a statement from Newcastle University that it will end its involvement in controversial research on wild-caught baboons in Kenya. This move follows a BUAV investigation that uncovered the cruel capture and use of wild baboons in Kenya and the involvement of researchers from Newcastle University 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 Legislation in Kenya relating to animal experiments is outdated and hopelessly inadequate.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.

In the UK, using wild-caught primates in research was effectively banned in 1995, yet researchers from Newcastle University 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.

BUAV Director of Special Projects, Sarah Kite stated: ‘We welcome this move by Newcastle University to stop this controversial research in Kenya. The BUAV investigation has caused a public outcry; people have been shocked and repulsed by our findings and it is only right that the University should respond in this way. It makes a mockery of UK law if researchers can use public funds to go overseas to carry out horrific research on wild-caught primates that would not be allowed in the UK.’

While Newcastle University has committed to ending the experiments in Kenya and has stated it is ‘reviewing all our overseas research involving animals’, the BUAV will seek clarification on when the baboon research will end.

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 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.

- 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.

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