National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

Differences between primates and humans

. Updated: 16 January 2013


Primates in UK labs include baboons, macaques, tamarins, marmosets, and squirrel monkeys. Although basic, there are more guidelines for housing primates than any other species, but these are routinely ignored. Monkeys at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School and the Institute of Neurology were kept alone in small cages - no dimensions more than a few feet, no bedding, no foraging materials, and harsh metal grid floors. Using wild-caught primates in UK laboratories is ‘banned’ - unless a researcher makes the case that it is necessary. Baboons have been snatched from the wild because there were not enough captive bred animals available at the time.

The lids of one eye of infant macaques were sewn together to study the effects on cells in the central nervous system.

A chemical was injected into baboons’ brains, and they were subjected to flashing lights, in attempts to create a model of human epilepsy. Yet the two best drugs for people have been on the market for decades, and do not work in the baboon tests.

Monkeys’ jaws were broken and reset in experiments to compare the use of bone grafting. The experiments proved nothing. Doctors had known a hundred years earlier, from working with people, that fractured upper jaws heal easily without bone grafts.

What a Waste

  • Gout is caused by excess uric acid which is produced in monkeys, apes and humans; but only humans get gout.
  • The way drugs break down and are excreted are similar in monkeys and man, but metabolism rates differ radically.
  • Several species of non-human primates have been experimentally infected with hepatitis E virus; the infection is less severe in these animals than it is in humans.
  • Chloramphenicol does not have the adverse effect in monkeys and dogs that it has in people.
  • Herpes B virus in monkeys may cause lesions on the face, lips, mouth, body. Monkeys can carry the virus without suffering the disease; in humans, the disease is rare but is almost always fatal.
  • It is believed that the behaviour of captive primates triggers the release of endorphins (natural opiates) in the brain, altering hormone levels, appetite and how pain is experienced.
  • Massive doses of the drug azauracil caused no apparent toxic effects in monkeys; in people, it produced unpleasant effects that stopped its use.

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