PETA: Retire Imprisoned Monkeys After Possible Spread of COVID-19

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There's a perfect storm raging at the Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) in Seattle—ground zero for COVID-19 in the U.S.—and monkeys imprisoned there are caught up in the worst of it. We need your help to keep them safe.

A monkey peeking out of a cage in a University of Utah laboratory.

First, the WaNPRC is just plain terrible. It has a long history of both horrific experiments on monkeys and animal welfare violations.

Second, the WaNPRC is apparently wading through a leadership and financial crisis. There have been layoffs, a hiring freeze, and drastic cost cutting. Rapid changes in leadership are highly unusual, indicating apparent disorder. The WaNPRC may have neither the resources nor the expertise to protect the health and well-being of the primates there.

And last, pour on the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it affects monkeys differently than it does humans, they can still be infected by the novel coronavirus. Monkeys are usually kept locked in tiny cages, increasing the chance of an outbreak. Their immune systems are already compromised by the unnatural conditions of the crowded laboratory, so a human infected with the virus could pass it on to one or more of them. From there, well, you only need one match to start a forest fire.

Three monkeys in a cage, one with a head implant, in a University of Utah laboratory.

Any infectious disease experiments conducted on infected monkeys will be compromised. These primates should be retired to sanctuaries and left alone.

All animals deserve equal consideration—they can experience pain, suffering, joy, and fear, just as we can, even though their physiology is quite different. Monkeys live in large family groups. Female baby macaques stay with their mothers their entire lives, and males do for several years. They play, dine, explore, and hang out together. They have learned to use cameras and iPhones to look at themselves. They are empathic, often risking their own lives to help others.

PETA asks for a suspension of all experiments on primates and demands that the WaNPRC immediately provide us—and the taxpaying public—with the following crucial documentation:

  • Proof that no staff members have been exposed to or infected with the coronavirus
  • Proof that no primates there have been exposed to or infected with the coronavirus
  • Proof that limiting staff exposure to primates will protect animals from the coronavirus

Please take action below and join PETA in calling for these measures to ensure the health of primates at the WaNPRC.

Ana Mari
Cauce, Ph.D.
University of Washington

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