People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals & Born Free USA sanctuary offer snubbed
HOUSTON, Texas––If 1,000 juvenile long-tailed macaques held in Houston at this writing by Charles River Laboratories had the rights of humans, they would either be returned to their homes in the wild in Cambodia or be granted asylum as refugees.
If the young long-tailed macaques were treated as inanimate property, they would most likely be held as evidence until all pending possible criminal charges are settled by the courts.
Instead, the macaques, whom Charles River Laboratories had hoped to sell to biomedical researchers for $33,000 each, appear to be headed right back to the same Cambodian dealers who orchestrated their illegal capture and sale for research use.
(See Monkey-laundering? Busts of lab suppliers follow 15 years of warnings.)
Saves cost of feeding the evidence
Returning the macaques to the dealers saves either Charles River Laboratories or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service the cost of their care and feeding throughout what may became years of litigation.
It also conveniently disposes of evidence, possibly accessible through forensic examination of fur, feces, and parasites that the macaques were wild-caught, not raised in captivity, as Charles River Laboratories contends it believes they were, and that Charles River Laboratories either knew or should have known that the macaques were not raised in conditions sufficiently biologically secure to ensure that they could not bring foreign diseases into the United states.
Endangered by any name
Recognized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as endangered in the wild, long-tailed macaques are also called crab-eating macaques, snow monkeys, and/or cynomolgus monkeys.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species allows only those born in captivity to be trafficked among nations.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Born Free Foundation, “which operates one of the largest primate sanctuaries in the U.S., have been working together and with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for months to bring these monkeys to a reputable sanctuary to spend the rest of their lives in peace,” PETA disclosed on March 13, 2023.
“Stop it right now!”
However, continued the PETA media release, “The feds have okayed a plan for Charles River Laboratories to send 1,000 endangered monkeys brought illegally to the U.S. back to Cambodia. PETA demands that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service stop it right now and release the monkeys to sanctuaries.
“PETA has learned,” the media release elaborated, “that animal testing giant Charles River Laboratories likely intends to truck [the estimated] about 1,000 long-tailed macaques from Houston to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning, where they will be put on the next flight back to Cambodia, apparently with the blessing of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Justice.
“The monkeys did not leave,” at least for a day
“PETA has learned,” the media release affirmed, “that these are likely the same monkeys the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service prevented from being experimented on in U.S. laboratories because Charles River couldn’t prove that they hadn’t been abducted from their forest homes, instead of bred in captivity.
The situation changed rapidly during the next 48 hours, yet remained unresolved.
“Right now, more than 1,000 juvenile monkeys who were stolen from their wild homes in Cambodia and illegally imported to be exploited in U.S. laboratories are being handed back to the very people responsible for their suffering,” the PETA Facebook page bannered on Tuesday morning, March 14, 2023.
Later in the day, PETA updated, “The monkeys did not leave Charles River Laboratories. PETA stationed individuals all day long outside the company’s Houston facility, and none of the 1,000 monkeys who were in danger of being shipped back to Cambodia left.”
“PETA pledges $1 million”
“Thousands of PETA supporters e-mailed and called the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, urging the agency to release the animals to a sanctuary instead of allowing them to be sent back to Cambodia to be funneled back into the forest-to-laboratory pipeline.
“PETA pledges $1 million for the placement of all the monkeys at the Born Free USA primate sanctuary in Texas,” the update finished.
Said PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo, “The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service needs to do its job and protect these monkeys from being recycled into the forest-to-laboratory pipeline.”
“Hopeful we could come to an agreement”
Born Free USA “has been in talks with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service since September of last year,” a Born Free USA media release said, “offering sanctuary alternatives for these animals, repeatedly stating our desire and willingness to provide lifetime sanctuary for these young monkeys.
“We were hopeful we could come to an agreement, until we were informed that the monkeys will be loaded onto planes and sent back––likely to be recycled back into the corrupt system that led to their capture from their wild homes in the first place.
“We are deeply concerned that these monkeys will end up back in the hands of laboratories,” Born Free USA said.
Crocodile tears in the monkey labs
The background to the situation, detailed in Crocodile tears in the monkey labs as Charles River suspends imports, includes that 33,000 of the monkeys used in U.S. biomedical research in 2021 were imported, including 19,269 long-tailed macaques from Cambodia.
About 14,000 of the Cambodian macaques were wild-caught, but were misidentified by the exporters as captive-bred, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
This put the importers in violation of the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and requirements that non-human primates used in U.S. laboratories not have been exposed to diseases occurring in the wild that might potentially jeopardize the health of humans.
Eight traffickers indicted
Charles River Laboratories, long one of the biggest monkey importers and vendors to researchers, on February 22, 2023 “disclosed that it had received a subpoena related to shipments of monkeys from Cambodia and had voluntarily suspended future shipments until it could develop a new protocol that has the U.S. government’s blessing,” reported Carolyn Y. Johnson and Daniel Gilbert of the Washington Post.
The subpoena, from the U.S. Department of Justice, followed the November 16, 2022 eight-count indictment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida of two Cambodian government officials, primate supply company founder James Man Sang Lau, 64, and five of his employees.
All seven were charged with “smuggling and conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act,” according to a Department of Justice media release.
The Lacey Act of 1900, the oldest U.S. wildlife protection law still on the books, prohibits interstate traffic in illegally obtained wildlife or wildlife parts.
No one employed by Charles River Laboratories was charged; Charles River Laboratories has purported to have been victimized by the Cambodian dealers and an intermediary broker, Vanny Resources Holdings, Ltd., of Hong Kong.
Vanny Resources Holdings Inc. appears to have used a Cambodian subsidiary, Vanny Bio Research Corporation Ltd., to have adapted a “monkey-laundering” scheme formerly run through China to operate through Cambodia instead.
(See Lab animal supplier Inotiv allegedly sold smuggled monkeys.)
Where macaques could go, instead of back to traffickers
The nominated sanctuary destination for the 1,000 juvenile macaques, the 175-acre Born Free Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas, near San Antonio, originated in Japan as the Arashiyama Sanctuary.
There Japanese field primatologists studied free-ranging longtailed macaques known as “snow monkeys” from 1954 to 1972.
When the Arashiyama Sanctuary lost funding, laboratory macaque dealer Edward Dryden imported the macaques to Laredo, Texas, where he intended to found a breeding colony whose offspring would be sold for biomedical research.
Texas snow monkeys?
Dryden died however, before any were sold. His widow Clementina Dryden allowed the macaques to remain on the Laredo property until 1980, when primatologist Lou Griffin moved them to Dilley and maintained the colony as the South Texas Primate Observatory until 1997.
Griffin then relocated the macaques to the present site, a 186-acre tract that the South Texas Primate Observatory bought in 1990 but was unable fence securely until singer Wayne Newton and Dallas attorney Robert “Skip” Trimble led a fundraising drive in 1995-1996.
The new facility became the Texas Snow Monkey Sanctuary. Financially struggling, it was annexed in 2000 by the Animal Protection Institute, founded by Belton Mouras in 1968.
(See Animal rights movement pioneer Belton Mouras, 90.)
Born Free USA, the U.S. affiliate of the British-based Born Free Foundation, acquired the sanctuary after absorbing the Animal Protection Institute in 2007.
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Connie Morgan says
That these monsters are allowed to use these amazing animals in today’s world is absolutely disgusting and labels them as cruel monsters that want to make money on terrible suffering and death to innocent creatures only trying to live their lives as nature intended. We all know no good comes from it. It is blatant cruelty and if we, as decent people, don’t protest and do everything in our power to end these morally wrong actions, we are not doing our duty as a human being–we are above this, we protest and send our feelings to people who definitely put money over humanity–SHAME on them. Let’s join Peta and end this horror.
Jamaka Petzak says
Such a disappointing update to a long, long story.
Sharing with gratitude…
Annoula Wylderich says
It would be nice if U.S. Fish and Wildlife would do their job properly, especially since they’re funded by taxpayer dollars; instead we have to rely upon non-governmental organizations to step in and try to ensure the protection and safety of these monkeys.