small monkey in a cage

Primate Labs’ Dirty Secret Dumped onto State Route 54



World Animal Protection US Executive Director Lindsay Oliver shares her thoughts on the tragic automobile crash in Danville, PA that was responsible for the suffering of 100 monkeys on their way to a Florida research lab.

On January 21, 2022, a truck carrying 100 monkeys en route to a research lab in Florida crashed in Danville, PA. Monkeys in wooden shipping crates were catapulted from the vehicle and could be seen scattered across the highway. Arrows on the boxes indicated which side should face up. My house plants were shipped the same way, and I complained about it. Monkeys aren’t commodities; they are living, breathing, sentient beings who deserve to be treated as such.

Any type of transport is stressful for animals, and the longer the travel time, the greater the risks are of exhaustion, dehydration, injury, and heat/cold stress. Temperatures dipped close to zero on this day, and it’s unclear how long these monkeys were left outside on the road, exposed to the frigid elements.

Three monkeys who managed to escape the crash were captured and killed after being deemed a public health risk. Although their death saved them from potentially decades of pain and suffering in a lab, this begs the question: why were they a health risk after they were caught?

The monkeys simply spent a few hours fleeing to treetops in below-freezing conditions—likely the first and only trees they ever climbed. How would that make them any more of a health risk? What disease threats did these monkeys pose? What will happen to the remaining ninety-seven who weren’t killed? These are questions labs don’t want to answer.

Before the traumatic crash, 100 monkeys spent nineteen hours as cargo on a flight from Mauritius to JFK, one of the major international airports allowing the import of wild animals. In Mauritius, monkeys are stolen from the wild and bred in captivity to be shipped out globally for experimentation purposes. The stress of capture can be fatal to animals, and removing them from the wild can have disastrous effects on ecosystems.

Once inside labs, primates endure catastrophic mental trauma from these barren environments. They pace in tiny cages, pound on metal bars, and pull out their hair in frustration. Whether for years or decades, this is where most monkeys in labs will spend the rest of their lives. I know because I’ve seen it.

I think about the monkeys I met during my investigative work inside primate labs every single day. Some are still there; most were killed in the name of “science.” But this isn’t science. Even per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 95% of drugs shown to be safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials. Animal research doesn’t work.

My heart hurts, my soul hurts, and I’m tired of living in a society that continues to let this happen. We need to stop capturing, breeding, and experimenting on animals and start investing in advancing non-animal models—research based on human biology that actually works.

I hope this tragedy shines a light on the larger issue: what are we doing to animals?

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