RENOWNED primate expert Jane Goodall has begged Air France to stop shipping live monkeys for medical research.
In a letter to chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM Alexandre de Juniac, she wrote: “I beg you to put an end to this cruel trade.”
The scientist, who was awarded the Légion d'Honneur in 2006, wrote: “I was disturbed to learn recently that Air France is the last passenger airline in the world that continues to transport monkeys for experimentation.
Calling on Mr de Juniac to take decisive action, the scientist accused Air France of subjecting the "social intelligent primates" to “long and terrifying flights”.
She wrote: “Once Air France delivers these monkeys to laboratories (...) they are deprived of everything meaningful and necessary for them to be happy,"
She added that they would be "desperately lonely, traumatised and psychologically damaged".
Air France’s response was rapid and robust. It said it operated a “highly supervised activity”, that was vital to research and medicine in France and throughout Europe.
In a statement, the company said that it works to “established strict standards in terms of comfort and well-being for animals and optimal conditions of transport”.
It said that experiments on primates was vital for research in many medical areas, including Parkinson's and Alzeimer's disease, and infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria and hepatitis C.
Air France is the last remaining large passenger airline to transport monkeys for scientific purposes.
The company is facing increasing pressure to discontinue the practice, with Ms Goodall and musician Peter Gabriel among the latest high-profile recruits to a concerted campaign led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.