Macaque © Kahle

Across the world each year, tens of thousands of monkeys - mainly macaques and marmosets - are used in research and testing. In the UK, around 3,000 monkeys are used annually. Much of this use is to develop and test the safety and effectiveness of potential human medicines and vaccines. Primates are also used for studying how the brain functions and in research relating to human reproduction.

What we think

Primates are highly intelligent animals who form complex social relationships, and experience emotions in a similar way to humans - this means that primates can suffer in similar ways to us. There is no question that they can experience pain and psychological distress as a result of experimental procedures and from the way they are bred, transported or housed. The capture of wild primates for use in breeding colonies and for experiments in some countries also causes very significant suffering - we believe this is completely unacceptable.

What we are doing

We work to end the suffering or primates by

  • challenging the need and justification for using primates 
  • aiming for worldwide bans on the use of great apes and on primates taken from the wild 
  • campaigning for a coordinated strategy to end all primate use and to replace them with humane alternatives. 

And while their use continues

  • reducing suffering throughout the animals' lives 
  • ending 'severe' suffering
  • improving housing and care 
  • promoting better understanding of primate behaviour and welfare.


  • Most of the macaques used in experiments in the UK are imported from breeding centres in Mauritius, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Israel (sometimes via suppliers in Europe). Standards at these overseas breeding centres are highly variable - some are very poor. The journeys that primates have to undergo around the world are long and stressful.
  • In the UK, the use of great apes has not been allowed since 1998. Chimpanzees are still used in the USA, although the number is declining. 
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