Monkey lab plans spark protests

Kathmandu, September 20:

Around 1200 people from 21 countries have signed a petition calling on Nepal to cancel its plans to establish laboratories using rhesus monkeys and to export monkeys.

Signatures came from India, Singapore, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, the United States, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, China, New Zealand, Panama, Jordan, UAE, Israel, Colombia, Spain and Japan as well as Nepal.

The Wildlife Watch Group (WWG) and Animal Nepal have joined hands with the world’s leading animal welfare agencies and biologists to oppose breeding and exporting of Nepalese monkeys for biomedical research in America, according to a statement issued here today by the WWG.

“The monkeys are to go to Washington and Texas where potentially dangerous and/or lethal experiments will be carried out on them. Two American agencies, the Washington National Primate Centre (WNPC) and Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR), and their Nepalese counterparts received government permission to catch, breed and export Nepalese rhesus monkeys for this purpose” the statement said.

The campaigners in their petition outline that monkeys are considered sacred and are an important part of Nepal’s heritage for a number of reasons. They say Nepal will not deserve credit for providing monkeys for biomedical research by maintaining outdated, unreliable, and unethical methods for conducting studies. Most countries now maintain a complete ban on great ape experimentation.

India for instance banned all primate exports in 1977, it said. The statement further said: “American centres try to find loopholes in the world’s legal animal rights provisions, and

in Nepal (one of the few countries in the world still largely without such legislation) it has found ideal working ground.”