07/18/07 Experimenting on Primates Should Be Banned

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Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Water Management
Veterinary Department
Miramarska 24
10000 Zagreb

July 18, 2007

Dear Sirs,

Throughout the European Union, there are campaigns demanding a most urgent prohibition of experimenting on any non-human primates!

Animal Friends wishes to draw your attention to animal suffering in the morally unsustainable and scientifically questionable practice of subjecting primates to painful and invasive experiments. In accordance with the efforts within the European Union, we ask that you should immediately proclaim a ban on all experiments on primates.

Almost 80% of European citizens who have responded to the European Commission poll regarding the Directive on Laboratory Animals 86/609 stated that they regarded the use of apes in experiments to be unacceptable. This all-European campaign has been joined by numerous organizations and associations for animal welfare and protection, scientists, medical doctors, the leading European foundation for medical research without animal testing – Dr. Hadwen Trust – and an increasing number of politicians and members of the European parliament.

After the members of the Scottish parliament universally endorsed the initiative for banning experiments on primates, Robert Evans, member of the European parliament for the Labour Party, firmly declared: "I am convinced the time has now come for politicians to take an uncompromised stand to achieve a ban on all non-human primate testing." His aim is to call for urgent action, together with 179 other European MPs from all European countries that signed the Written Declaration, to end all experiments on apes and wild monkeys all over Europe.

In the spirit of political and ethical changes within the European Union, Animal Friends demands that such efforts should be supported and all experiments on primates in Croatia banned. We believe that Croatia should recognize the importance of making such a decision and cease with this outdated and unjustifiable practice, perhaps even before the European Union.

Therefore, we demand that all experiments on primates should be banned (e.g. Article 23 of Animal Protection Act).

Scholarly research on primates has shown that apes are capable of handling complex problems, mastering complex forms of communication, and remembering past events very clearly, as well as anticipating future ones. They use their intelligence primarily for shaping and understanding relations to other individuals in their social groups, just like humans do. When left without contact to their group and its support, isolated in small cages, they experience mental breakdown and suffering, just like humans.

Apes are primarily used in toxicity tests. Even though no law prescribes their use, it has become common to test new medicines and other substances on primates. They are administered with toxic doses, mostly through force feeding, in order to test their bodily reaction, even though their bodies are different from human ones. Primates are also used in neurological and other medical or psychological experiments. Scientists intentionally damage parts of their brains in coarse imitation of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's syndrome and then force them to repeat certain tasks, sometimes "motivated" through food or water deprivation. Often they infect apes with diseases that they could never suffer from in nature, since they are untypical for their species.

Crucial physiological differences between apes and humans result in the fact that, by testing on them, we can reach conclusions about them rather than us. Therefore, it is small wonder that decades of testing on primates have resulted in no new medicines in so many fields. There is no place for experimenting on primates in a modern, civilized society.

Even though, as far as we are informed, no experiments on apes are currently conducted in Croatia, we are of the opinion that all testing on primates, as well as the import of primates and their young for scientific research, should be legally banned as soon as possible.

We are awaiting your positive response for the sake of animals, human health, and civic responsibility.

Respectfully yours,

Luka Oman
President of Animal Friends

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