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  1. Good Science Digest

  2. Jan 22, 2022

Truck Crash Highlights Plight of Laboratory Monkeys

Monkey hand grasping cage
Photo: Getty Images

Pennsylvania police reported Friday that a truck transporting 100 monkeys to a laboratory crashed, and four monkeys escaped. These are just a few of the 100,000 primates currently held in laboratories across the country.

Animals who are used in research regularly suffer injury or death because of poor care, including being scalded to death in cage washers or dying from laboratory heating or cooling mistakes. After suffering the pain and fear of a highway crash, these monkeys are now at the mercy of freezing temperatures in the Pennsylvania woods. 

“Ethical and effective research must focus on human-relevant models, not animals,” said Catharine E. Krebs, PhD, medical research specialist at the Physicians Committee. “These and all laboratory monkeys should be retired to sanctuaries where they can live in peace, in a natural habitat with trees and space to move freely.”

While many primates and other animals are killed every year in medical research and drug testing, nearly 95% of drugs that have passed the animal test phase end up failing when they enter human trials. Human disease studies with clinical patients, human cell models, and computer simulations provide better information, for vaccine development or any other field. Demand for this particular animal species has increased since COVID-19 vaccine research began, but the ethically charged use of highly social creatures in research and testing is costly, time-consuming, and has a long history of failing to improve human health. More ethical, effective, and sustainable human-based methods must be recognized and championed by federal institutions, researchers, patients, and other advocates.

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