Three monkeys who escaped from a road crash in the US state of Pennsylvania on their way to being used in experiments in a vivisection lab have been killed. One hundred long-tailed macaques — also known as crab-eating macaques — were being transported from New York to the lab in the south-eastern state of Florida when the accident took place. 

The crash happened on Friday 21st January 2022 near the community of Danville, Pennsylvania. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the monkeys were en route to a CDC-approved quarantine facility after arriving Friday morning at New York’s Kennedy Airport from Mauritius. After the crash, some monkeys fled the vehicle, and the local news WNEP said a police helicopter with thermal cameras was used to track them down. It seems that they were killed when they were found, but it is not clear whether they were shot by the police. The authorities say that by Saturday all macaques had been accounted for, and no other monkeys are still free.

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), native to Southeast Asia, are considered sacred animals at some Buddhist and Hindu temples. In the wild, they are quite good swimmers and drop into the water to avoid predators, such as clouded leopards and pythons. They prefer to sleep in trees overhanging water. In Pennsylvania, though, this tactic may not have worked to escape the human predator. 

Unfortunately, the fate of the surviving 97 long-tailed macaques — who labs prefer to call them Cynomolgus monkeys — may even be worse than those three who were killed. At least the three monkeys had a few hours of freedom, while the others will be submitted to all sorts of invasive tests, kept in captivity, and eventually also killed. If some of the three had not been found, they might have ended up being killed by locals or captured to be sold in the illegal primate trade, so it is unlikely that there would have been a happy ending to this story. Unfortunately, when we are talking about vivisection and animal experimentation, happy endings hardly ever occur. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.