More than 370 primates have been part of the research over the past 15 years, and the scientists who conduct the tests are most probably “entirely lacking” in expertise essential to care for such animals, Australia’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has said.
Millions of dollars from research grants were used to conduct the experiments, and hospitals connected with the studies refused to disclose the details about the number of primates which have been experimented on, and how many have died or had to be killed.
The experiments are cruel in nature, with one test reportedly involving a baboon, which died after getting a kidney transplant from a pig.
Other procedures included marmosets being given a deliberate drug overdose and having their eyes removed and dissected.
The violent experiments were mainly conducted at the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) baboon colony in Wallacia, western Sydney.
Among the 370 primates imported, there were 255 pigtail macaques from Indonesia, 46 owl monkeys from the United States, 59 common marmosets from Switzerland and France, and 10 long-tailed macaques from France, the body added.
The RSPCA also doubted that bringing sensitive human-like mammals was really necessary for the procedures – when there are already three federally-funded breeding centers with four primate species available at the local level.
Australia is adding to the “ongoing capture of primates from wild populations,” the report says.
Primates are “highly intelligent animals with complex behaviour and social structure,” with their confinement and use for science raising “serious ethical questions,” the organization said.
The most likely effects of their participation in the studies could be “pain, suffering or distress,” and some experiments require the animals to be re-used in several studies or even killed, the RSPCA warned.
Also, the animals are frequently kept in pairs – or in total isolation, which could entail more suffering.