National carrier Kenya Airways has said it will end a contract under which it shipped monkeys from Mauritius to the United States for laboratory experiments.
KQ’s announcement came after a truck transporting the long-tailed macaque monkeys bred on a farm in Mauritius crashed last week in Danville, Pennsylvania, attracting criticism from animal rights activists in the US.
“We will not renew the contract that expires at the end of February,” KQ board chairman Michael Joseph said in an interview.
Four monkeys escaped following the collision between the truck and a pickup truck, prompting residents to join the local police in searching for them in nearby forests.
The shipment was heading to a quarantine facility and laboratory in Florida approved by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US police said. The animals had arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport from Mauritius aboard a KQ plane.
The exact location of the quarantine facility and the type of research for which the monkeys were destined were not clear, but the cynomolgus monkeys, also known as the long-tailed or crab-eating macaque, are often used in medical studies.
The US Department of Agriculture is investigating the incident amid protests from animal rights activists.
The monkeys have been in high demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting larger investments in breeding the animals at US primate research facilities.
US animal rights lobby PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) welcomed KQ’s decision not to ship the animals from next month, in a separate statement seen by the Nation.
“PETA would like to thank Mr (Allan) Kilavuka (KQ CEO) and Mr (Michael) Joseph (KQ chairman) for their decision to do away with this cruel, heinous business at Kenya Airways,” said PETA senior vice-president Jason Baker.
“Monkeys belong in the wild, not in laboratories, where their most basic needs, including home, family, and community, are better met.”
Mr Baker said KQ’s decision demonstrates the carrier’s understanding that using monkeys for research exposes humans to more emerging infectious diseases.
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