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Primate Testing in NZ?

Primate Testing in NZ?

"But surely monkeys don't get used in experiments in New Zealand", "Isn't that illegal in New Zealand?" and "Oh but that sort of thing stopped happening years ago" are common responses from people when confronted with images and information about the use of primates in experiments.

The short answers are - No, No and No. No, monkeys haven't been used in experiments in NZ in years.

The reason for that is simple economics. It is cheaper and easier for NZ companies to pay for primate experiments to be carried out overseas, and they do exactly that.

Large commercial laboratories in countries such as Singapore, China and India exist for this purpose. Animal-based researchers also prefer to work in these countries as they have little to no animal protection laws and ethical oversight.

It makes their job experimenting on animals easier. No, tests on monkeys are not illegal in New Zealand.

Tests on most primates are completely legal in New Zealand. The Animal Welfare Act 1999 restricts experiments on four species of non-human hominid only.

The only primate species afforded protection from being used for research, testing or teaching purposes are Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Orangutans and Bonobos.

Other animals, including the Rhesus monkey shown in the picture here from an experiment carried out in 2010, aren't given any protection.

This species may be familiar as it is the one commonly found in India and is a popular subject of photos by tourists.

In short, no, experiments on monkeys didn't stop years ago. 

The photo below is from 2010 and is the same species that New Zealand Company Living Cell Technologies (LCT) paid to use in experiments used in applications to the New Zealand Government. The monkey in the photo here had the same drug given to it to cause lesions in the brain that produce similar symptoms to Parkinson's Disease (PD) that were given to Rhesus monkeys in the experiments LCT pays for. This model looks for cures for an artificially induced disorder in monkeys with similar symptoms to PD, not naturally occurring PD in humans.

rhesus mptp 2

The accompanying picture of the restrained Rhesus monkey, while not from the actual experiment, is from another recent experiment using the same model of Parkinson's Disease as that used by LCT.

If we had the actual images we would provide them but the details of the company's experiments on animals rarely make it into the public arena. They don't want people to know what happens. It took NZAVS 134 days from submitting an Official Information Act request (8 Oct. 2012) to get confirmation of what species and model LCT used in their recent experiments submitted to Medsafe (19 Feb. 2013).

These experiments were the ones the New Zealand Government used to justify allowing experiments on people by LCT to be carried out in Auckland. They are also the ones that the companies carrying them out don't want the public to know about.