Animal rights groups ask Supreme Court for Stay Order on Monkey Export

Maneka Gandhi sends appeal to Nepal government

Kathmandu – 20-01-09 – Animal rights campaigners today appealed to the Supreme Court to issue a stay order on the export of rhesus monkeys to US labs. The petitioners call for an immediate halt of the breeding and export of monkeys as this is 'illegal', 'inhumane' and 'unethical'.

Seven petitioners today filed a Public Interest Litigation against the government, the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, as well as the US-backed companies who received a license to breed rhesus monkeys for biomedical research.

The petitioners argue that Nepalese laws do not support the export of monkeys. The Muluki Ain promotes the humane treatment of all living beings. The Wildlife Breeding Act –which introduced the breeding of rhesus monkeys in 2060/2003- has no legal base as it was passed as a budgetary declaration during the royal regime.

Both the National Parks Act 1973 and the Breeding Policy do not facilitate the export of live monkeys. Also, the government failed to monitor the breeding facilities, as a result of which there is no clarity on the status of the monkeys.

The petitioners also say they are shocked by the high death rate (around 20%) among rhesus monkeys destined for the US at a Lele breeding centre.

According to a 1992 UK research 75% of lab monkeys are killed in research centres across the world.

The breeders claim the monkeys will be used in AIDS research. However the petition includes a letter from the US Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explaining that the ongoing use of monkeys in AIDS research is 'contrary to available scientific evidence'.

Animal rights campaigner and member of Indian Parliament Maneka Gandhi in a letter appeals to the Nepal government to ban the breeding and export of monkeys. "As a person who is deeply respectful of your country's traditions and is a true well wisher, I would urge you to put right this terrible mistake. I speak for thousands of people who have been equally appalled", writes Gandhi. The Indian MP reminds the government that India in 1977 banned biomedical research on monkeys. "It brought international acclaim to us.

I would request you to show the enlightenment of your government by standing firm on your promise not to export monkeys," notes Gandhi who claims monkeys will be euthanized upon arrival in the US when carrying the slightest infection.

According to Gandhi the breeding and selling of monkeys 'is an unethical and lucrative business' and a bad deal for Nepal: "This company will earn thousands of dollars which will be kept overseas for them. In return Nepal will lose monkeys that are extremely important for the propagation of so many plants."

According to the Indian campaigner 'India and Nepal have traditionally been known for their respect for all creatures'. "This sudden and mysterious decision to give a license to one company to send our monkeys to a painful and prolonged death is not in keeping with our cultures. It brings shame to a government to try and earn money through the exploitative suffering of species that are so much like us."

This export of monkeys has led to protests all over the world. In July 2008 some 100.000 protest letters were send to the government.

Demonstrations have been held in Kathmandu and almost all European capitals as well as in India, Russia and the USA and at United Nations offices.

Some groups have even gone as far as calling for a tourism ban for Nepal.

Ironically the government on June 20, 2008, decided not to export monkeys. This was confirmed by former Director General Dr Annapurna Das of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation in a letter addressed to Swiss animal rights groups. In the letter he notes that the Wildlife Breeding Policy 'does not include any clause for the export of rhesus monkeys in order to use in biomedical research'.[1]. Lately however interviews with government officials and breeders have suggested that 25 rhesus monkeys will be exported to the US soon.

For more information and original documents: c/o Manoj Gautam, Roots and Shoots Nepal,

9841-496822. Email:

Also go to:

Animal Welfare Network Nepal –

Stop Monkey Business Campaign –

Dr. Shirley McGreal, OBE, Chairwoman
International Primate Protection League
PO Box 766
Summerville, SC 29484, USA
Phone - 843-871-2280, Fax- 843-871-7988
E-mail - , Web:
Working to Protect All Primates Since 1973