Special Report:

Trends in Importation

Primates by the numbers

Trends in ImportationCountries exporting nonhuman primates into the U.S. Asian countries have been a main supplier of nonhuman primates to the rest of the world for decades. After an overwhelming demand from U.S. researchers for rhesus macaques to use in radiation experiments, India banned primate exports in 1978, and Bangladesh followed a year later.16, 17 Since 2000, China has been the top exporter of nonhuman primates to the U.S. and the numbers of nonhuman primates exported into the U.S. from China have increased dramatically. For example, in 2000, it exported 4,137 nonhuman primates into the U.S., but the numbers have since tripled to 13,096 exported to the U.S. in 2010. China has at least 40 monkey breeding facilities.18 As of 2008, there were 170,000 long-tailed macaques and 40,000 rhesus macaques, who are mainly used for exportation to biomedical research and testing, on breeding farms in China. According to an article in Nature, facilities in China are exhausting natural populations of non-human primates as they supply offspring of wild-caught animals to laboratories.19

Though it exports significantly fewer nonhuman primates than China, Mauritius (an island off of the southeast coast of Africa, near Madagascar) is the second largest exporter of monkeys to the U.S., having exported 2,940 macaques in 2010. Macaques are trapped in the wild for export or used for breeding for export. A recent news article highlighted a possible cull of monkeys at a breeding facility on Mauritius because there is a "world 'overproduction'" of monkeys for biomedical research.20

In 2010, Kampuchea (formerly Cambodia) exported 2,400 nonhuman primates to the U.S., making it the third largest exporter to the U.S., and Vietnam (1,680 nonhuman primates) and Indonesia (541 nonhuman primates) rounded out the top five countries.

Three of the top five companies exporting primates to the U.S. in 2010 are based in China: Huazheng Laboratory Animal Breeding Centre (2,980 monkeys), Guangxi Weimei Biotech Co, Ltd. (1,920 monkeys) and Angkor Primate Center, Inc. (1,560 monkeys). Nafovanny, based in Vietnam and considered to be the world's largest primate breeding facility, exported 1,680 monkeys in 2010, and Bioculture Mauritius, Ltd. exported 1,442 monkeys.


Wild-caught non-human primates Based on LEMIS data, 492 of the nonhuman primates imported into the U.S. in 2010 were listed as wild-caught on Declaration Forms submitted to the USFWS, and 5,897 were born in captivity but bred from one or both parent(s) who were wild-caught. (These animals are identified as "F1" animals.) These figures mean that 30 percent of nonhuman primates imported into the U.S. in 2010 originated from the wild or were bred from one or both monkeys who were wild-caught. Nearly half of the F1 monkeys imported in 2010 were from Mauritius and most others come from Kampuchea. Most of the wild-caught monkeys came from Mauritius, China, and St. Kitts and Nevis.

Over the past decade, imports of wild-caught primates have declined while imports of animals born from wild-caught parent(s) have quadrupled. (Figure 10) Since 1998, 26,145 wild-caught monkeys and 51,279 monkeys born from one or both wild parents were imported.


Illness, injury, and death Squirrel monkey - 465 imported into u.s., 2005-2010 Nonhuman primates imported in to the U.S. must be held in a quarantine facility for 31 days upon arrival. Twenty-four facilities are registered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are allowed to receive imported nonhuman primates for quarantine.21 It has been estimated that 200, or one percent, of nonhuman primates die each year in quarantine.22 Officials from the CDC have reported that in fiscal year 2009, 582 imported monkeys died in quarantine (537 of them were euthanized for positive tuberculin skin test (TST) reactions or exposure to TST-positive animals).23 In fiscal year 2010, 4424 nonhuman primates died in quarantine and three were found dead upon arrival to the U.S.25 In fiscal year 2011, 45 nonhuman primates died in quarantine, and three were found dead upon arrival to the U.S.26 Causes of death of these nonhuman primates in shipping and quarantine include bloat, pericarditis, hemorrhagic enteritis, pneumonia, dehydration, trauma, stress, pulmonary edema, rectal prolapse, and parasitic worm infestation.

Two recently published papers by U.S. based laboratory veterinarians indicate that neither new shipments of nonhuman primates,27 nor established colonies of nonhuman primates28 are immune to infectious diseases. One paper described the euthanasia of 80 macaques who were imported to the U.S. from China, and it calls into question the validity of disease diagnosis and management of newly imported animals in quarantine.29 The second paper cited the importation of foreign animals as being a significant factor for introduction of infectious diseases.30

Regardless of the credentials of origin and destination labs, it is impossible to protect animals from infection when transporting them internationally by commercial or charter airlines over long distances and through potentially several layovers. Continue Reading» 16. Blum, E. (1995). The monkey wars. (p. 120). Oxford University Press, New York.

17. Rowan, A. N. (1984). Of mice, models, and men a critical evaluation of animal research. (pp. 111-117). State University of New York Press, Albany.

18. Jiang, Z., Meng, Z., Zeng, Y., Wu, Z, and Zhou, Z. (2008.) CITES non-detrimental finding for exporting Macaca from China. International Expert Workshop on CITES Non-Detriment Findings. Cancun, Mexico, November 17th-22nd, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2011, from http://www.conabio.gob.mx/institucion/cooperacion_internacional/TallerNDF/Links-Documentos/WG-CS/WG5-Mammals/WG5-CS5&6%20Macaca/WG5-CS5&6-P.pdf.

19. Anonymous. (June 13, 2002). "Supply and demand." Nature, 417:684.

20. Jeory, T. (September 18, 2011). "Horror of monkey cull on tropical island." Sunday Express. Retrieved September 20, 2011, from http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/271963/Horror-of-monkey-cull-on-tropical-island.

21. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. (2011). "Registered importers of nonhuman primates for scientific, educational, and exhibition purposes as of October 19, 2011."

22. Capuano, S. (2011). Transportation issues with nonhuman primates. In Institute for Laboratory Animal Research. (2011). Animal research in a global environment: Meeting the challenges: Proceedings of the November 2008 international workshop. (pp. 239-240). National Academies Press, Washington, DC. Retrieved October 17, 2011, from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13175&page=239.

23. Mullan, R.J. "Nonhuman Primate Importation and Quarantine: United States Fiscal Year 2009." Presentation to Association of Primate Veterinarians Workshop, November 2009.

24. Five monkeys were euthanized due to positive tuberculin skin test reactions.

25. Mullan, R.J. "Nonhuman Primate Importation and Quarantine: United States Fiscal Year 2010." Presentation to Association of Primate Veterinarians Workshop, October 2010.

26. Mullan, R.J. "Nonhuman Primate Importation and Quarantine: United States Fiscal Year 2011." Presentation to Association of Primate Veterinarians Workshop, October 2011.

27. Panarella, M.L. & Bimes, R.S. (2010). A naturally occurring outbreak of tuberculosis in a group of imported cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis). Journal of the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science, 49(2): 221–225. Retrieved on August 31, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846012/.

28. Bailey C., & Mansfield K. (2010). Emerging and reemerging infectious diseases of nonhuman primates in the laboratory setting. Veterinary Pathology, 47(3):462-81.

29. Panarella, M.L. & Bimes, R.S. (2010). A naturally occurring outbreak of tuberculosis in a group of imported cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis). Journal of the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science. 49(2): 221–225. Retrieved August 31, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846012/.

30. Bailey C., & Mansfield K. (2010). Emerging and reemerging infectious diseases of nonhuman primates in the laboratory setting. Veterinary Pathology, 47(3):462-81

Ending the Use of Animals in Science