Action needed to ensure the supply of macaque monkeys for research


Concerns about the long-term viability of using long-tailed macaques in biomedical research have been explored in an article in Vice magazine.


It follows an announcement last month by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that this once common monkey had entered the ‘endangered list for the first time.


Deforestation, human consumption, and culling have all contributed, but in the latest assessment, researchers also cited the monkeys’ ongoing use as a ‘biological resource’.


These monkeys are the most widely used in biomedical research and as Vice observed the demand for these animals has increased due to the Covid pandemic, where they were used in preclinical studies and vaccine testing, adding to existing research on a raft of diseases like HIV, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s.


In the article, EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, explained the vital importance of non-human primates for research and the ongoing shortage of captive bred animals.


Kirk cited the current ‘perfect storm’ of an export ban by China and the difficulty of finding airlines to transport animals as a threat to research in Europe.


“In ten years' time, I'd be dismayed at what impact this will have on research,” he said.

EARA believes that far more should now be done to establish breeding centres for non-human primates in Europe, in order to avoid dependence on transporting animals from Asia and the inadvertent risk of endangering the species in the wild.


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