Friends of SPCAN (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Nepal) is extremely concerned about the apparent decision of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation to allow biomedical research on monkeys in Nepal, and to actually provide researchers with monkeys from national parks managed by the department ('Monkey business', #171). The department is now supporting the work of the Nepal Natural Society, an NGO that cooperates with the Washington Primate Center. Monkeys are considered sacred and an important part of Nepal's heritage for a number of reasons. Monkeys are highly intelligent animals and maintain intricate social structures. They have complex emotional lives, caring for one another and showing love to their babies as we humans do to our children. Ethically, using monkeys in experiments that inflict mental and physical pain is unacceptable and unconscionable. Research illustrates that primate experimentation is no longer the 'gold standard' for study design. Past experience has demonstrated that animal-modelled biomedical research yields results that cannot be safely applied to humans.
Nepal will not get credit for providing monkeys for biomedical research by maintaining outdated, unreliable and unethical methods for conducting studies. We are living in an era when ethics as well as state-of-the-art study design are important considerations when doing research. England maintains a complete ban on great ape experimentation. Recently, large-scale public and professional protests in France halted plans for a breeding facility for experimental animals. India, after realising that its monkeys were misused for gruesome radiation experiments in the US, banned all primate exports in 1977. Global trends indicate a strong movement towards the abolition of experiments on primates. This is one of the reasons why it is increasingly difficult for American research centres to find sufficient research primates. The Washington Centre tries 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. We strongly request the department and the Nepali government at large to demonstrate its commitment to enlightened and ethical research practices by halting commercial, biomedical research on Nepali monkeys.
Friends of SPCAN,