PETA is delighted. Egyptair has announced that it will terminate air transports of primates, as loudly demanded by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). This applies at least to those creatures destined for experimental laboratories in countries such as the USA. The Cairo-based airline is thus following the example of most carriers that have already stopped flying macaques or other primates for experimental purposes. Transports of monkeys between zoos for breeding purposes to preserve the gene pool, are exempt from the ban.
While PETA cheers the success on its website, there is not one word on Egyptair's site about ending the transport of monkeys. Perhaps this is also because the airline had only recently been massively criticized by PETA activists at Charles de Gaulle airport for its continued primate transports. The protest was preceded by an intensive three-month campaign with thousands of e-mails to Egyptair, which met with considerable response in the international media.
Mounting protests show impact
It all started on 30APR22, when airline industry workers alerted PETA U.S. to a Star Alliance shipment of 720 macaques flying from Cambodia to New York-JFK. “Records reveal that the Star Alliance has transported 5,000 monkeys to the United States, since March,” the association criticized. The animals are “torn from their families, herded into tiny crates, and shipped around the world to endure misery and death in laboratories,” says Mimi Bekhechi, Vice President of PETA. At the same time, the organization announced that it will publicly pillory other carriers that continue to transport animals for testing laboratories. “Any other airline contemplating getting into this cruel business, should think twice – PETA Entities stand ready to campaign against any carrier that intends to profit off monkeys flown for undergoing cruel experiences,” reads a release. Prior to the protest at Paris CDG, PETA had called on the Egyptian airline to follow the example of other carriers that stopped shipping monkeys to laboratories for animal testing.
Rejecting animal experiments in principle is highly controversial. Drug manufacturers, for example, argue that they are still indispensable in same cases although their number has declined sharply. In the EU and the USA, it is general consensus to make animal testing superfluous in the long term. Animal experiments have been on the decline for 30 years, and are being replaced in part by computer simulations. However, they are still an integral part of research and science in order to carry out experiments on complex organisms with the aim of producing safe medicines.
Yet, the voices against this practice are getting louder. Seen in this light, Egyptair's decision is part of a general trend that increasingly outlaws the air transport of live animals for clinical or medical testing purposes. This applies not only to primates, but also to wild species such as snakes, parrots, or ornamental fish, that are torn from their natural habitats and end up in terrariums, aviaries, or private aquariums. Thanks to PETA and other organizations, protests against such practices are now so massive that airlines are withdrawing from the business.
Better late than never
Some have been doing so for some time. For example, Lufthansa banned all transports of cats and dogs to experimental laboratories back in 2010. The decision was subsequently extended to almost all animal species that were intended to end up in some laboratories. Just weeks ago, on 30JUN22, Air France announced that it will terminate all shipments of monkeys to clinics when current contracts end. Kenya Airways made a similar announcement in January.
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