Special Report:

Trends in Importation

Primates by the numbers



Trends in ImportationStress from transport The stress endured by animals of various species, including nonhuman primates, in transportation—even just being moved within the same building—is well known.31, 32 Studies have been published about experimental and routine commercial transportation of monkeys to monitor stress indicators before, during, and after transport.33 For nonhuman primates, many of whom are transported internationally, the duration of transport can last up to three days.34, 35

The animals are usually moved several times before reaching the destination, including: capture from their cage to transport cage, holding in quarantine cage, transfer to airline transport cage, truck transport to airport, loading on to aircraft, travel aboard aircraft, possible transfer to other aircraft, unloading from aircraft, loading on to truck, unloading in laboratory quarantine facility, and eventual transfer to laboratory cage.

A Covance Routing and Contact Sheet Flight Itinerary that AAVS obtained through the Freedom of Information Act from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows one shipment in 2006 of 1,050 long-tailed macaques (packed in 210 crates that are 4 ft. x 1.4 ft. x 1.6 ft.) from Mauritius to Houston, Texas. The monkeys were shipped via Air Transport International, LLC, a private air carrier, for at least 27 hours, which included three flights, with stopovers in Valencia, Spain and Gander, Newfoundland before reaching the airport in Houston.

Another flight itinerary obtained by AAVS shows a shipment of 100 pig-tailed macaques (packed into 21 crates that are 4 ft. x 1.4 ft. x 1.6 ft.) from Indonesia to Louisiana in January 2010. The macaques were shipped by air from Jakarta, Indonesia to Manila, Philippines, and then to San Francisco, California. Upon arrival in the U.S. the crates of monkeys were loaded on to a truck and driven to New Iberia, Louisiana. This journey lasted longer than 56 hours.

Stress studies have indicated that shipping monkeys in pairs can reduce, but in no way eliminate, their stress levels.36 The amount of time it took for the monkeys to return to normal behavior and physiological levels after arriving at a facility after transport has also been examined. Monkeys traded internationally may acclimate to the quarantine facility, only to be moved again to another laboratory. The long-term effects of stress in monkeys can confound the results of research experiments. One behavioral study of young male long-tailed macaques found that they had not returned to normal behavior after one month,37 and another study of wild-caught vervet monkeys showed that it took eight months for them to recover physiologically from removal from the wild to captive conditions.38

Continue Reading» 31. Honess, P.E., Johnson, P.J., & Wolfensohn, S.E. (2004). A study of behavioural responses of non-human primates to air transport and re-housing. Laboratory Animals, 38, 119-132.

32. Wolfensohn, S.E. (1997). Brief review of scientific studies of the welfare implications of transporting primates. Laboratory Animals, 31, 303-305.

33. Fernström, A.L., Sutian, W., Royo, F., Westlund, K., Nilsson, T., Carlsson, H.E., Paramastri, Y., Pamungkas, J., Sajuthi, D., Schapiro, S.J. & Hau, J. (2008). Stress in cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) subjected to long-distance transport and simulated transport housing conditions. Stress, 11(6), 467-476.

34. Swallow, J., Anderson, D., Buckwell, A.C., Harris, T., Hawkins, P., Kirkwood, J., Lomas, M., Meacham, S., Peters, A., Prescott, M., Owen, S., Quest, R., Sutcliffe, R., & Thompson, K. (2005). Guidance on the transport of laboratory animals. Laboratory Animals, 39, 1-39.

35. Honess, P.E., Johnson, P.J., and Wolfensohn, S.E. (2004). A study of behavioural responses of non-human primates to air transport and re-housing. Laboratory Animals, 38, 119-132.

36. Fernström, A.L., Sutian, W., Royo, F., Westlund, K., Nilsson, T., Carlsson, H.E., Paramastri, Y., Pamungkas, J., Sajuthi, D., Schapiro, S.J. & Hau, J. (2008). Stress in cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) subjected to long-distance transport and simulated transport housing conditions. Stress, 11(6), 467-476.

37. Honess, P.E., Johnson, P.J., & Wolfensohn, S.E. (2004). A study of behavioural responses of non-human primates to air transport and re-housing. Laboratory Animals, 38, 119-132.

38. Kagira, J.M., Ngotho, M., Thuita, J.K., Maina, NW, & Hau, J. (2007). Hematological changes in vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) during eight months' adaptation to captivity. American Journal of Primatology, 69, 1053-63.

Ending the Use of Animals in Science