Content Header Mask
Stop the baby trade

BUAV Primate Campaign History

The BUAV leads the campaign to end the international trade in nonhuman primates for research. We carry out daring and hard-hitting investigations that expose the inherent cruelty and suffering inflicted on nonhuman primates in the chain of supply from the trapping fields to the laboratory.

Prior to the BUAV’s Paradise Lost investigation, the international primate trade was a secretive and almost unchecked business. Demands for a continuous cheap supply of primates meant that the vast majority of animals used were taken from the wild.

Sold for as little as £100 each, tens of thousands of primates were being captured and exported for laboratory research.

This all changed with the launch of Paradise Lost when the BUAV embarked on an investigation to follow the chain of supply from the tropical rain forests of Asia and lush undergrowth of Mauritius to the bare metal cages of the laboratory. 

An undercover worker was placed in Shamrock, a UK holding centre (and Europe’s largest primate supply company) and in the primate toxicity facility at Hazleton UK (now Covance), a leading UK contract testing laboratory. Meanwhile, other investigators travelled to source countries (responsible for exporting primates) to infiltrate the trapping network.

What emerged was a shocking and disturbing expose of pain, suffering and death on a massive scale. Footage, never before captured on film, revealed the brutality and cruelty inflicted on monkeys during their capture, caging, transportation, holding at Shamrock and eventual death in the laboratory.

Major findings included high mortality rates, the appalling conditions at holding centres in source countries and the mistreatment by and desensitised attitudes of staff at facilities in the UK. BUAV findings revealed that as many as 8 out of every 10 monkeys captured from the wild died before reaching the laboratory. A truly shocking statistic.

Important victories following Paradise Lost include:

• A move away from the use of wild-caught monkeys in research. In the UK alone, following our Paradise Lost investigation, only 5% of monkeys imported during 1993 were wild-caught. In 1990, it was 77%.

• In 1995, the UK government announced a ban on the use of wild-caught monkeys in research unless there was ‘exceptional and specific justification’. It also introduced a system whereby overseas suppliers of primates have to be inspected and approved before permission to import monkeys for research is given.

• In 1994, Indonesia and the Philippines announced restrictions on the wild-caught primate trade - a ban on the export of wild-caught monkeys although monkeys could continue to be trapped in the wild to establish or replenish breeding programmes.

• A Home Office inquiry into Shamrock was forced to accept the main criticisms made by the BUAV - that management had failed to care for the primates; that staff were incompetent in care and procedures and handled animals inappropriately and insensitively and that the conditions in which the animals were kept were inadequate. In 1993, Shamrock announced a ban on the import of wild-caught monkeys. A few years later, the facility closed down for good.

• The BUAV’s campaign to persuade airlines to stop transporting primates destined for the research industry had a major impact on the trade. Key airlines, that were previously responsible for shipping thousands of monkeys to laboratories each year, announced an end to their involvement.


Since the launch of Paradise Lost, the BUAV continued in its efforts to campaign against the international trade in primates for research. We led a coalition of animal protection groups from across Europe and around the world. Additional investigations took place exposing the plight of wild-caught vervets on the Caribbean islands of Barbados and St Kitts and wild-caught baboons in Tanzania.

As the demand and use of wild-caught monkeys dropped significantly throughout the world, the research industry found that it no longer had a continuous cheap supply of primates. As a result, the BUAV was faced with new challenges as the demand switched from wild-caught monkeys to captive breeding.

Efforts to establish primate breeding centres in Europe were vigorously opposed by the BUAV and we sent a team of investigators to film one such facility in Spain.

Our recent investigations into the trade in primates from source countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia Indonesia and Laos exposed the factory farming of macaques for laboratories overseas and the continued capture of wild-caught monkeys to replenish breeding ‘stock’. (Monkey BusinessTorn from the WildChain of Suffering and Monkey Misery)

Following a BUAV investigation in Thailand, we effectively negotiated with a research facility to release a group of 50 wild-caught macaques who were found languishing in appalling conditions after spending years in research. The monkeys were taken to a sanctuary where they are able to enjoy the rest of their lives free from the pain and suffering inflicted by the research industry..

BUAV Primate Campaign History Continued