Using monkeys in research
Tens of thousands of monkeys - mainly macaques and marmosets - are used in research and testing around the world each year. In the UK, around 3,000 monkeys are used a year. Much of this use is to develop and test the safety and effectiveness of potential human medicines and vaccines. Primates are also used to study how the brain functions and in research relating to human reproduction. Here's more on what we think of this and what we're doing to help these animals.
About primate testing in the UK
Most of the macaques used in experiments in the UK are imported from breeding centres in Mauritius, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Israel (sometimes via suppliers in Europe). Standards at these overseas breeding centres are highly variable - some are very poor. Primates have to undergo long and stressful journeys around the world.
In the UK, the use of great apes has been banned since 1998. Chimpanzees are still used in the USA, although the number is declining.
Our view on the use of monkeys in testing and research
Primates are highly intelligent animals who form complex social relationships, and experience emotions in a similar way to humans. This means that primates can suffer in similar ways to us.
There's no question that they can experience pain and psychological distress as a result of experimental procedures and from the way they are bred, transported or housed. The capture of wild primates for use in breeding colonies and for experiments in some countries also causes very significant suffering. We believe this is completely unacceptable.
What we're doing to help primates used in research
We're working to end the suffering of primates by:
- Challenging the need and justification for using primates
- Aiming for worldwide bans on the use of great apes and on primates taken from the wild
- Campaigning for a coordinated strategy to end all primate use and to replace them with humane alternatives.
And while their use continues:
- Reducing suffering throughout the animals' lives
- Ending 'severe' suffering
- Improving housing and care
- Promoting better understanding of primate behaviour and welfare.