Cyril Rosen, 86, died on December 21, 2013 at his home in Castletown on the Isle of Mann. Born in London, a son of the founder of the Nesor dental supply company, Rosen grew up with “a large collection of pets, including dogs, cats, ducks, geese and chickens,” recalled the Daily Telegraph. “It was, he later claimed, the sight of a family chicken being roasted and presented on the dinner table that prompted his decision to become a lifelong vegetarian.”
Refusing conscription as a conscientious objector during World War II, Rosen served a jail term, then enjoyed postwar success in the dental manufacturing industry. “In the early 1960s,” the Daily Telegraph continued, “he rescued and nursed back to health a baby West African mona monkey.” This inspired Rosen to advocate against keeping nonhuman primates as pets and as subjects of experiments.
“For a time he served as trustee and secretary of the now-defunct British Monkey Owners’ Society,” the Daily Telegraph said, “and helped to advise on the establishment of primate sanctuaries at home and overseas.”
In 1977, four years after Shirley McGreal founded the International Primate Protection League in Thailand, later relocated to South Carolina, Rosen founded IPPL-UK. In that role, Rosen “gave evidence to parliamentary committees on the role of chimpanzees in medical research and served as an expert witness in a landmark 1985 court case against the Royal College of Surgeons,” the Daily Telegraph noted. The prosecution won a cruelty conviction that was later overturned on appeal.
Recalled McGreal, “Working with IPPL’s Spanish representatives, the late Simon and Peggy Templer, Rosen also organized a long and eventually successful campaign to end the abuse of chimpanzees used as tourist touts on Spanish beaches. The hapless animals often had their teeth chiseled out and were fed tranquillizers. The surviving chimpanzees were transferred to Monkey World,” a British sanctuary.
Rosen’s most ambitious advocacy project may have been the Primatarium, opened in 1979 in the historic 1,000-seat Kings Cross Cinema building. Specializing in showing films about nonhuman primates in their native habitat, the Primatarium featured a waterfall cascading down an artificial hillside, through dense artificial foliage, with ceiling speakers to replicate the sounds of tropical storms. The venture lasted just 18 months. The building was later returned to use as a conventional movie house, and is today a nightclub.
Rosen’s last major campaign was against boxing orangutan shows in Thailand in 2004. IPPL-UK was disbanded after Rosen retired to the Isle of Mann in 2006. Rosen in 2007 was honored with the Primate Society of Great Britain’s Special Conservation Medal, previously awarded only once, in 1996, to Jane Goodall.