Local residents and animal rights organisations have been protesting plans for a monkey-breeding facility in Bainbridge, Georgia, US, a town of fewer than 15,000 residents, located 40 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida. The company Safer Human Medicine, led by executives who formerly worked for two other companies that provide animals for medical testing, wants to build a $396 million complex that would eventually hold up to 30,000 long-tailed macaques for medical research by universities and pharmaceutical companies. On 16th January 2024, representations against the plan were given to the Bainbridge City Council.

In August 2023, representatives of Safer Human Medicine solicited bids from towns in several states interested in hosting its monkey breeding facility, and Bainbridge and Decatur County were among the bidders.

Among other problems, PETA  and some local residents said they fear the possibility of monkeys escaping into the community. Ted Lee, a resident, told WALB-TV, “They’re an invasive species and 30,000 of them, we’d just be overrun with monkeys.” 

Lisa Jones-Engel, PETA’s science advisor on primate experimentation, said,  “In a bid to attract a few jobs  —  many of them low-paying and risking exposure to zoonotic diseases  —  city and county officials have rolled out the red carpet for an unethical plan by some questionable characters that could spell ecological disaster and potentially spark the next pandemic…PETA urges Bainbridge officials to withdraw their support and shut down this project before a shovel hits the dirt.”

PETA has obtained CDC documents showing that in recent years, there’s been a significant uptick in the arrival in the US of monkeys infected with Burkholderia pseudomallie, tuberculosis, malaria, and other deadly pathogens and diseases.

One of the companies where the people in charge of Safer Human Medicine used to work is Charles River Laboratories, which in 2023 came under investigation for obtaining wild monkeys smuggled from Cambodia. 

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’.