4) Where do primates used for research purposes come from?

The majority of primates used for laboratory research in the United States come from the United States. That is, they are bred domestically at several facilities around the country. This minimizes the need for importing animals from the wild. Also, domestic breeding insures that animals do not possess pathogens (viruses, bacteria) that could adversely influence the outcome of research projects. Some species are still imported: rhesus monkeys, cynomolgus monkeys, squirrel monkeys, owl monkeys. It has been estimated that perhaps 12,000 to 15,000 monkeys are imported per year. Monkeys are imported from the Phillippines, China, and Peru. Every effort is made to ensure that imported monkeys are not captured from the wild. Primatologists work with governments and conservation organizations to see that all international trade in nonhuman primates follows regulations set forth in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Currently, more than 120 countries have signed this agreement.

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These FAQs were written by John P. Capitanio, Ph.D., with assistance and updates from the Publications Committee of ASP. Special thanks to Jim Moore, Ph.D., and Phil Tillman, D.V.M.

Approved by the Board of Directors 30 June 1998.