Just before World Week for Animals in Laboratories (23rd-30th April) the Animal Justice Project and PETA sent an open letter to the Swedish Ambassador to the UK. It was accompanied by a petition with over 60,000 signatures including ones from Joanna Lumley, Jane Goodall, Moby and Peter Egan.
This is all part of an ongoing campaign with Swedish animal rights group Djurrättsalliansen. The groups are asking for an end to the import and use of primates for research at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Karolinska is the last place in Sweden that still conducts painful experiments on primates. It recently took 24 macaque monkeys from the United States to carry out a series of invasive procedures on them. " Kind people everywhere are opposed to testing on primates", says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. "PETA and Animal Justice Project are calling on Sweden and the Karolinska Institutet to listen to the public and stop these archaic and ineffective experiments."
While these experiments are taking place- the monkeys are locked away in cages and endure many invasive procedures. They won't be able to climb, forage, socialise or play for five years, which is exactly what they would do in the wild. They will receive a number of vaccinations and have blood taken up for 25 times a year.
Many studies have found that primates are not appropriate models to study human diseases on. Scientists have developed different methods for the creation of vaccines.
One example is using studies of human populations and the human immune system, such as the Modular Immune In vitro Construct (MIMIC) system which is being used by the US government to develop a vaccine for Ebola.
"Whilst we are against all animal experiments, primate experiments are particularly unpopular - as is clear by our celebrity and public support on this campaign," says Animal Justice Project international director Claire Palmer. "We urge Sweden to immediately end to the import and use of primates for research; and to spare the twenty-four rhesus monkeys who are earmarked for cruel and futile research". For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk and AnimalJusticeProject.com/sweden.