In 1997, a ban on importing wild primates for research experiments was implemented. Unfortunately there is a loophole that urgently needs to be closed. While adult wild-caught primates are illegal to import into the U.K., their offspring are not.
The ban was a result of concern expressed for the excessive suffering captive primates endure. Instead of addressing these concerns, the loophole has led to the development of breeding farms that capture wild primates for breeding and export the offspring to countries like the U.K. For Mauritius, the largest supplier of Britain’s research primates, this translates into a £25 million (annually) industry.
The readily available supply of baby long-tailed macaques from wild-caught parents is of great concern. As long as there is a demand, countries like Mauritius will continue producing and exporting them. A classic case of supply and demand. So long as there is a demand for primate research in Britain, there will always be another country willing to supply the animals.
The burden is on the importing countries to end this trade. The U.K. is well-known for having high standards of animal welfare written into law. That such a loophole exists is unsettling.
Photo Credit: Brian Jeffery Beggerly