The vivisection labs in the Canary Islands, Spain, have spent a year without receiving a single animal to experiment with because most airlines are not willing to transport them there due to animal rights pressure campaigning. 

Iberia and Air Europa first implemented a ban on transporting animals for vivisection in 2016, and the Spanish state had to intervene. Iberia lifted the ban “exceptionally, to collaborate in finishing urgent projects”, but IAG Cargo, the group’s parent company for shipments, states that “IAG Cargo does not transport live animals for use in laboratories, experimentation or exploitation.” Therefore, this ban continued, and in March 2021, labs in the Canary Islands had spent a year without receiving a single mouse. 

Public money that has been invested in the Canary Islands labs could be lost because they cannot do the experiments they plan, which may lead to looking for alternatives to test on animals — which, although they exist, might not have been considered if the pressure campaigns targeting the airlines had not happened. This shows that this sort of tactic is having an actual effect.

Only one commercial airline, Air France, is willing to transport primates for research in Europe or the US. In 2005, British Airways decided to stop transporting animals bound for scientific experimentation. United Airlines followed suit in 2013. American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Northwest Airlines, Qantas Airways, South African Airways, Delta Airlines, Eva Air, and China Airlines, all banned transporting primates for vivisection. In February 2022, Kenya Airways announced it will not renew its contract with a Mauritius farm that breeds primates for laboratory experiments. In the US, the National Association for Biomedical Research started litigation against four airline companies (IAG, owner of Iberia, United, China Southern Airlines and Qatar Airways) in 2018 for “illegal discrimination.”

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’.