‘Give laboratory monkeys a humane retirement’

15 Nov 2016

Do not euthanise the last two monkeys in the animal lab, but let them retire. A petition with this message is offered to the Executive board today. Animal Rights collected 27.000 autographs.

The Radboud University animal lab still has two rhesus monkeys. At the end of 2017, Nijmegen will end research on primates. ‘The past forty years, all monkeys were euthanised after they were used as laboratory animal’, says Robert Molenaar, director of the Animal Rights foundation. ‘That gives us reason to worry about the last two monkeys.’

‘These animals have made their bodies available to science’

For a few months now, the foundation is collecting autographs to keep the two monkeys alive. ‘These animals have made their bodies available to science, without their own consent. Now, they should be granted a nice retirement’, says Molenaar. He wants a second life for these animals, in a specialised home. Earlier, laboratory monkeys from Utrecht University, used for neurological research, were placed at Stichting AAP.

The petition has been signed by 27.000 people now. Rector Han van Krieken will accept the petition on behalf of the university today. University spokesman Martijn Gerritsen says that it is not decided yet what will happen to the monkeys in 2017, but that reassignment is a realistic option. ‘We follow the code made by the National Committee for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes‘, says Gerritsen. ‘The code states that the situation is assessed on age, life expectancy, health and psychosocial condition of the animal.’

According to Gerritsen, the claim that all monkeys died in the laboratory is false. ‘At least one has been placed at Stichting AAP.’ Other monkeys, that died during or after the research, were often used for research after their death, says the spokesman. Researchers studied their brain.

In Nijmegen, brain researchers work with the monkeys. Their research included a study about the way animals process audiovisual information and deep brain stimulation in relation with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer diagnosis.

Social pressure
The Animal Rights foundation is happy that Nijmegen stops its research on monkeys next year. According to the protesters, the animals do not get more than one glass of water a day, and are constantly thirsty. Water is their reward for cooperating during the tests. Electrodes in their brain measure brain activity. ‘We understand that this kind of research does not stop overnight, it is good that Nijmegen gives a good example now.’

In The Netherlands, about 1500 monkeys are being held for scientific research.

The foundation already held a petition in 2011, that was signed by 16.000 people. Back then, it wanted that the university would stop all animal research. At the time, there were sixteen monkeys in the animal lab. The social pressure to stop using monkeys during research has increased since then. According to Gerritsen, ‘the university also has its own responsibility’, and no further monkey researched is planned.

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