Animal rights and conservation activists are protesting the fact the Sri Lankan Agriculture minister has recently announced the plan to export 100,000 endangered toque macaque monkeys (Macaca sinica) to a private Chinese company. The reddish-brown toque macaque is endemic to Sri Lanka and features in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of endangered animals. Animal protection activists warned that it is likely the monkeys would be used for vivisection, but Sri Lankan authorities say farmers view the three million toque macaques in the country as pests who damage crops, so they would not care that much where they go.

Four animal protection and conservation groups (The Wildlife and Nature Protection Society, Center for Environmental Justice, Federation of Environmental Organizations, and Rally for Animal Rights and Environment Sri Lanka) have produced a statement saying that there are only 18 zoos in China, averaging out at 5,000 macaques per zoo, which is not credible, and this is why they suspect the real reason of the export is animal experimentation — notorious for its secrecy. The statement says, “Macaques, with their human-like qualities, have been particularly popular, especially with medical testing facilities in the U.S. and Europe. The potential income from such a trade would be far greater than that from the sale of this species to zoos.” 

It has been reported that the name of the Chinese company that sent the request for the toque macaques is Zhejiang Wuyu Animal Breeding Co. Ltd, and it is believed that it has not issued any reply regarding this matter. However, in a statement produced on 20th April 2023, the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka said the government agency that manages the import of wild animals in China was “unaware of the request and has not received such application from any side.” 

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’.