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Air France urged to end transportation of apes for medical research

Protest calling on Air France to end the transportation, Los Angeles, 28 April 2014
Protest calling on Air France to end the transportation, Los Angeles, 28 April 2014 Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Air France on Monday defended its transportation of monkeys for medical research after British primatologist Jane Goodall urged the airline to stop the practice.

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According to the French daily Le Parisien, Goodall sent a mail to Alexandre de Juniac, chief executive of Air France, urging him to stop the shipment of monkeys to laboratories around the world for experiments.

"Air France ships thousands of monkeys each year from Asia and Mauritius to laboratories in France, the United States and other countries" said Goodall, who turned 80 this year.

"Once Air France delivers these monkeys to laboratories (...) they are deprived of everything meaningful and necessary for them to be happy," said Goodall, they are "desperately lonely, traumatised and psychologically damaged".

Captive monkey in a laboratory at the University of Utah, USA.
Captive monkey in a laboratory at the University of Utah, USA. Peta/files 2009

Air France declared that the company strictly adheres to the rules governing the transportation of animals and has an authorisation to do so from the French ministry.

The airline states that the use of primates in medical experiments is crucial for "experiments in diseases of the central nervous system (Parkinson's, Alzheimer's), in psychological disorders (depression, addiction) or infectious diseases (HIV, hepatitis, malaria)".

Goodall notes that other major airlines such as Lufthansa, United Airlines, Alitalia, British Airways or American Airlines have made the decision to end their involvement in such transportation.

Asked by Le Parisien whether Air France might face legal action if it continued flying monkeys for medical experiments, she replied that she was convinced Air France would heed her letter which, she said, was in line with majority public opinion.

Jane Goodall is considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, following her 45-year study of the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

In 2006, she received a Unesco 60th Anniversary Medal and the French Légion d'Honneur.

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