Petition to Stop the Export of Nepal's Monkeys and Associated Research

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    Minister of Forestry, Nepal
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    All Animal Lovers
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To the Minister of Forestry

Singha Durbar


Dear Respected Minister,

We, a network of Nepalese and international animal welfare campaigners, first of all want to thank your ministry and government for annulling the potentially harmful National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Ordinance. We request the authorities to also annul the Wildlife Farming Act which enables individuals and organisations to rear and breed wild animals under certain conditions. The act allows the breeding of Nepalese monkeys and export to US research labs. Animal Nepal has joined hands with the world's leading animal welfare agencies and biologists in opposing this unethical kind of business. The monkeys are to go to Washington where potentially dangerous and/or lethal experiments will be carried out on them. The export of monkeys goes against the spirit of CITES and does not benefit anyone but a handful of opportunists.

The primary objectives of your Ministry are to conserve the country's major representative ecosystems, unique natural and cultural heritage, and give protection to the valuable and endangered wildlife species. Now that you are supporting the breeding and exporting of primates for biomedical research, these objectives are being violated.

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-modeled biomedical research yields results that cannot be safely applied to humans. In addition, there are now many alternative research methods (methods not using living animals) that are capable of providing

clinically relevant data.

We believe the decision is not in accordance with the Working Policy on Wildlife Farming, Breeding and Research 2003, as communities living with monkeys do not benefit from this development at all, and inflicting suffering to animals goes against the spirit of the Constitution. If the Government is serious about supporting animal conservation and helping farmer communities it should implement long term, scientific solutions to monkey overpopulation, such as birth control and farm land protection.

Nepal will not deserve credit for providing monkeys for biomedical research by maintaining outdated, unreliable, and unethical methods for conducting studies. We are now living in an era when ethics as well as state-of-the-art study design are important considerations when doing research. The UK now 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 used for gruesome radiation experiments in the US, banned all primate exports in 1977. Today, biomedical research conducted by US institutions continues to be generally cruel and inappropriate.

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 centers to find sufficient research primates. However, an increasing number of primates are needed by the US. American centers 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.

We strongly request the Nepalese government to demonstrate its commitment to enlightened and ethical research practices by halting (breeding facilities for) biomedical research on Nepalese monkeys and implement legislation to prevent such developments from reoccurring.

Thanking you for kind cooperation,

On behalf of Animal Nepal and Monkey Business Campaign Network,