On the evening of 25 February, three baboons broke free during their transport to the animal laboratories at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. Their escape has shined a truth-telling light on a dark and repulsive secret: the shadowy torture chambers of so-called “research centres”.
The baboons were from Wallacia’s National Health and Medical Research Council baboon “colony” – a euphemism for a breeding facility. There, the animals are specifically bred to be sold to laboratories around the country for cruel and deadly experiments.
Very little information is ever allowed to escape the high walls of these places. Unknown to most people, hundreds of intelligent and sensitive monkeys are being bred and used for experiments in Australia every year. They may be poisoned, cut open, electrocuted, or infected with deadly diseases in barren, windowless prisons.
Reports in 2016 spoke of “Frankenstein-like” surgical experiments being conducted with taxpayer funding that may have included transplanting a kidney from a pig to a baboon. Other experiments that have come to light include researchers at the University of Sydney taking electrophysiological readings from marmosets’ brains before killing them and then removing their eyes and dissecting the retinas. In a separate experiment on pregnant baboons, a mother was killed without authorisation, leaving an orphaned baby, and another baby baboon died as a result of testing.
Baboons and other primates deserve to be free, but because of the human war on nature, they are taken hostage and used in misguided experiments that often fail to advance human health and achieve nothing except securing the next government grant. There are major anatomical, genetic and immune differences between monkeys – including baboons – and humans, making them grossly inadequate for use in studying human disease.
There are three federally funded facilities that breed primates for experiments in Australia, including the one that these monkeys came from – and yet there’s nowhere for these animals to retire to once they’re no longer useful to researchers. Primates born into breeding facilities will ultimately die at the hands of experimenters.
The monkeys who tried escape from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital were used for breeding. The facility had decided that the 15-year old male was due for a vasectomy, since he had already been bred too much within the group and breeding him further would likely result in genetic problems.
They may have spent their whole lives in confinement, but these monkeys obviously still yearn for freedom. We say: let them go! PETA will find them a sanctuary home. Life in a laboratory cage is no life at all for a thinking, feeling, emotional being – human or baboon.