FWS Pushed to Investigate Airlines & Companies Behind Illegal Monkey Imports

A Hainan Airlines aircraft being loaded with cargo
Tyg728, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – On the heels of exposing apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by two airlines that transported monkeys for two monkey-breeding companies, PETA is now urging the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to investigate all four companies for apparent violations of the Lacey Act, a federal law designed to stop illegal trafficking of wildlife.

In a letter sent today to Edward Grace, assistant director of the FWS Office of Law Enforcement, PETA notes that the Lacey Act targets the macaque trade and prohibits trading wildlife who have been illegally possessed, transported, or sold.

Hainan Airlines and Maleth Aero have reportedly shipped long-tailed macaques without a registration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is an apparent violation of the AWA, which in turn constitutes an apparent violation of the Lacey Act.

Hainan Airlines


PETA’s recent letter to the FWS Office of Law Enforcement refers to an alleged breach of regulations by Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines in August. The extract from the letter reads:

“On August 9, 2022, Hainan Airlines shipped 720 long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), now recognized as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, from Phnom Penh, Cambodia via Beijing, China to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.”

“PETA was able to confirm the shipment through Hainan Airlines Cargo online tracking system (flight HU497 connecting to flight HU724), and documents viewed by whistleblowers indicate that the final destination of the monkeys was an Envigo facility in Alice, Texas.”

Maleth Aero/AELF FlightService


The letter also makes reference to a second alleged breach of the AWA last month by air carrier Maleth Aero:

“On September 1, 2022, Maleth Aero’s Airbus A330-200 plane reportedly transported 360 longtailed macaques from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas.”

“It’s PETA’s understanding that the monkeys were sent from the Houston airport to Orient BioResource Center (USDA license no. 74-B-0773) in Alice, Texas. Inotiv also owns this facility.”

“During the previous week, there were also two other Maleth Aero flights suspected to have transported long-tailed macaques: flight DB1003 on August 29 from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, and flight DB1001 on August 25 from Phnom Penh to Dulles International Airport.”

Upon receipt of PETA’s letter, FWS has now confirmed that its office of investigations will review the information provided.

The receiving companies


In addition to the air cargo carriers, PETA has also asked FWS to investigate the facilities that purchased and received the monkeys, one of which is owned by Envigo, whose notorious beagle-breeding facility is being shut down. The other is owned by Envigo’s parent company, Inotiv.

 “These astoundingly complex, intelligent primates are being stuffed into cargo holds, apparently illegally, just to fill the failing laboratories of greedy experimenters,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on FWS to crack down on this multimillion-dollar industry before it sticks another price tag on an endangered monkey.”

 In laboratories, long-tailed macaques and other monkeys are mutilated, poisoned, deprived of food and water, forcibly immobilized in restraint devices, infected with painful and deadly diseases, psychologically tormented, and killed.

Monkeys victimized in the wildlife trade and destined for U.S. laboratories can carry simian hemorrhagic fever virus, Ebola-Reston virus, tuberculosis, malaria, herpes B, deadly diarrheal pathogens, and other pathogens and diseases that can spread to humans.

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Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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