Efforts to stop 1000 monkeys exported from US to Cambodia

In September of last year, Born Free USA received an urgent call from colleagues at PETA asking if its primate sanctuary, based in south Texas, had capacity to accept hundreds of young long-tail macaques. The circumstances behind the rescue were secretive and highly confidential, and the scope of the rescue was like nothing that had ever been attempted before. Despite this, the wildlife non-profit’s answer was a resounding “Yes.”

Since that time, Born Free, PETA, and representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked to find a way to make the rescue happen, despite the mind-boggling logistics. Enclosures were designed, funding needs were circulated, and a workable plan was drawn up. Meanwhile, the context became clearer.

News broke in November that hundreds of endangered long-tail macaques had been illegally imported from Cambodia for exploitation in laboratories in the United States. Cambodian officials were indicted. Then in February, Charles River Laboratories was subpoenaed in the case. Born Free staff were told that the seizure of the monkeys, who were all between the ages of two to four, may happen any day.

On March 13, 2023, Born Free received urgent news that, despite six months of work to arrange the monkeys’ safe passage to lifetime sanctuary, the government had chosen to wash its hands of the animals. Rather than accept and support the offer of lifetime care, the government instead was allowing the lab to reexport the monkeys back into the hands of the people who stole them from their wild homes in the first place. The monkeys’ fate is now likely to be that they are recycled back into the system and will end their short lives in the misery of a laboratory.

Said Born Free USA Programs Director and Head of Sanctuary, Dr. Liz Tyson-Griffin: “We have been in talks with Fish and Wildlife Services since September of last year and have repeatedly reiterated our desire and willing to provide lifetime sanctuary for these young monkeys. These young monkeys will either be abandoned with no attempt at rehabilitation, or simply recycled back through the system and reexported for exploitation in other labs. Either way, their future is bleak – this is a death sentence. They deserve safety. They deserve to be cherished as individuals and not exploited as commodities. Please join us in calling for these monkeys to be sent to a safe sanctuary home, where they can heal and live without fear of exploitation.”

Born Free USA and PETA are calling on their supporters to urgently contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ask the agency to reverse its decision and work with the charities to allow the monkeys to be taken to safety.

PETA has made a generous pledge of $1 million to help fund the rescue of the monkeys if Fish and Wildlife Services is willing to agree plans for providing long-term sanctuary to these monkeys. The American Anti-Vivisection Society made another generous pledge to save the monkeys. If successful, this would be the largest monkey rescue in history.

Said Angela Grimes, Born Free USA CEO, “An operation to rescue this many monkeys is a huge practical and financial undertaking but, with the right funding and the time to create the infrastructure to support their care, it is possible and our team is standing ready to get it done. We urge U.S. Fish and Wildlife to reengage with us and to continue the positive discussions we have been involved in since September of last year. Rescue is an option. These monkeys have a home here.”

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