BUAV campaign to end UK involvement in wild-caught primate trade gains widespread support
BUAV's call to the Government to end the UK’s import of the offspring of wild-caught monkeys for research in the UK has gained momentum with the support of politicians, academics, primatologists, zoologists and other scientists, wildlife experts and celebrities. All have signed up to an Open Letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron. The letter was published in The Times, The Guardian and New Stateman and personally delivered to Downing Street by the BUAV's Chief Executive Michelle Thew in March 2011.
Support for the BUAV campaign comes from leading primatologist and Founder of the Jane Goodall Foundation, Dr Jane Goodall, actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna, environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, conservationist Ian Redmond, author Richard Adams, TV wildlife presenters Simon King, Bill Oddie, Michaela Strachan and Mark Carwardine along with celebrities such as Dr Brian May, Ricky Gervais, Jenny Seagrove and Toyah Wilcox. Other individuals to sign up include barrister Michael Mansfield, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and leading academics and scientists such as Professor Roger Crisp, Professor William McGrew, Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, Professor Stephen Harris, Professor Michael Balls, Professor Vernon Reynolds, Dr Anna Nekaris, Professor Simon Bearder and Professor Jonathan Wolff. Politicians include David Blunkett MP, Vernon Coaker MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Zac Goldsmith MP, Chris Davies MEP, Jillian Evans MEP, Nigel Dodds MP and Charles Kennedy MP.
Over 100 MPs have also signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 957) which also calls on the government to end the UK’s involvement in the wild-caught primate trade.
Many primates used in UK laboratories are imported from countries such as Mauritius, and despite a ban on the use of wild-caught primates in research since 1997, there is no such ban on their offspring or those from farms which trap wild primates for breeding purposes. The capture of primates from the wild inflicts great suffering which has been recognised by a number of organisations and official bodies, including the UK government’s own advisory committee, the Animal Procedures Committee. A recent BUAV investigation on Mauritius exposed the cruelty and suffering inflicted on monkeys as they are ripped from their jungle homes and families for the international research industry.
The BUAV urges the Government to end the UK’s involvement in this cruel trade by introducing a ban on the importation of the offspring of wild-caught monkeys, as well as those from any breeding facility that captures monkeys from the wild.
What the experts say:
Ian Redmond OBE, field biologist and conservationist: “In the 21st century, knowing what we do about primate cognition and their capacity to suffer, it is totally unacceptable to capture wild monkeys to breed babies for what is essentially a 19th century approach to medical science. New research tools make the use of non-human primates as living test-tubes obsolete. Rather, we should value the role of monkeys and apes as keystone species in their habitats - especially the tropical forest ecosystems that we urgently need to protect to stablise our changing climate and provide rainfall to water the world.”
Virginia McKenna OBE, actress, author and Founder of the Born Free Foundation: “It is totally inconsistent to ban the adults and experiment on the young. Such cruelty and lack of compassion should shame us.”
Professor Vernon Reynolds, Professor Emeritus, Oxford University and Founder of the Budongo Conservation Field Station, Uganda: “As a lifelong primatologist and a senior member of the academic community I was shocked to realise this was going on so that our medical laboratories can have 'subjects' to use for experiments.”
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner: “Congratulations to BUAV for their campaign against the trade in the offspring of wild-caught nonhuman primates and their abuse in research laboratories. It is time Britain and the EU ended this barbaric trafficking and mistreatment of these intelligent, social animals who feel and suffer the pain of confinement and experimentation.”
Mark Carwadine, TV presenter, conservationist and wildlife photographer: “We should be showing our non-human relatives more respect."
Michaela Strachan, wildlife presenter and conservationist: “When you've worked closely with primates like I have, the thought of using them for medical experiments is just abhorrent. How can anyone with an ounce of compassion accept the sight of a monkey being caged and experimented on, often in cruel and painful ways. Surely medical science has come on enough for us to not have to put primates through this kind of appalling suffering anymore. Britain made a stand by not allowing the use of wild caught primates in laboratories, but laboratories are now importing the offspring of wild primates. Let's just put an end to the use of primates in laboratories altogether. I think the time is well overdue.”
Jenny Seagrove, actress: “What happens to these wild monkeys is terrible. I am glad to join the BUAV in their letter calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to end the UK’s involvement in this cruel trade.”
David Spratt, chartered scientist, chartered biologist and zoologist: “The white coats of the scientist who carry out this work should be a symbol of hope and of humanities efforts to protect humans, animals, and the environment. Instead, they become the blood stained butchers aprons of those who put academia and profit before compassion and empathy with all living creatures. The abuse of animals by the vivisectionists continue only because society has been led to believe that it benefits from it, but anyone who has enough courage to recognise the physical and psychological pain suffered by animals in the dark recesses of animal research laboratories will oppose it wholeheartedly. It is because the BUAV is committed to exposing the unpalatable truth behind this suffering that I am honoured to be able to support this campaign – and all their campaigns to bring an end to the practice of animal experimentation.”