Animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a press release Monday that United Airlines would no longer ship monkeys for use in labs, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.
A spokeswoman for United Airlines confirmed the news in an email to The Huffington Post, explaining that the airline does not "book, accept or transport non-human primates" to or from medical research facilities either in the U.S. or the rest of the world.
PETA began a campaign to persuade United Airlines to forbid the shipping of primates in 2011 when the airline merged with Continental and adopted Continental's shipping policies, which allowed primates to be carried as cargo, according to PETA's press release.
PETA's campaign was conducted on social media as well as in public protests. The animal rights group even bought stock in United Airlines in order to propose a shareholder resolution to stop the practice, according to the statement.
There are at least four international airlines left in the world that still ship primates for laboratory testing: China Eastern Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Philippine Airlines and Air France, PETA's director of Laboratory Investigations, Justin Goodman, told HuffPost in an email.
"PETA and its international affiliates will now escalate efforts to show Air France and the other three airlines still shipping thousands of primates to pain and misery in laboratories that people around the world are disgusted by this practice and will choose other airlines until the companies stop facilitating this cruelty," Goodman said.
After Air France allegedly canceled a shipment of 60 lab monkeys from the Republic of Mauritius in response to a separate PETA campaign last year, the airline said in a statement to MSNBC that it "ensures that all biomedical research" involving the animals it transports is "in line with current legislation and the regulations drawn up by scientific organizations specializing in animal welfare."
The statement also said Air France monitors both the suppliers and the buyers of the animals and refuses shipment if they are not in compliance with the appropriate laws and regulations.
Using animals for medical testing is legal in the U.S. as long as labs adhere to the regulations outlined in a federal law called the Animal Welfare Act, which is enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
There have been instances of abuse of animals in testing labs in the past.
In 2011, PETA filed a federal complaint against a lab in Washington State after a whistle-blower who had worked at the lab told PETA of regular instances of abuse of monkeys there, NBC News previously reported. The whistle-blower provided PETA with video footage showing monkeys in extreme distress being maltreated by employees who allegedly worked at that Washington lab, Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories.
In 2010 the U.S. imported over 21,000 primates, according to data given to the International Primate Protection League (IPPL) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. China is the primary seller of monkeys to the U.S., according to the IPPL.
(h/t Raw Story)