A batch of female monkeys trapped in the wild and shipped to Israel cannot be
exported for medical research, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein said on
“Since [the monkeys] have been trapped and brought to Israel to
live in captivity on [Mazor] Farm for breeding, they should be allow to end
their lives in dignity and not in experimentation, nor in the suffering caused
by another shipment as well as the experiments themselves,” Weinstein
Israeli policy is to only permit the export of animals for medical
research whose aim is to save human lives or to reduce suffering in
The Mazor Farm company has said that there is no choice but to
use long-tailed macaques trapped in the wild for the experiments, which are
concerned with the development of drugs to treat osteoarthritis in adults. Older
monkeys are required for the experiments, but there are no such animals born in
captivity and aged 15-20 years, the farm said.
The response came in a
supplementary legal opinion filed to the High Court of Justice by the
Attorney-General’s Office, in response to a petition by an animal rights group
asking to prevent a shipment of 90 long-tailed macaques from Mazor Farm, located
near Petah Tikva, to an animal testing laboratory in the US.
the 90 female macaques earmarked for shipment were trapped in the wild and
shipped to Israel, where Mazor Farm bred them. The remaining macaques are their
offspring, born in captivity.
In his supplementary opinion, Weinstein
said that his position was based on the concept that trapping monkeys in the
wild should be reduced as much as possible.
Animals taken from the wild
must be used only to produce offspring that could be used for essential testing,
the attorney-general said.
Let The Animals Live petitioned the court in
April, asking the justices to overturn a Central District Court decision
allowing Mazor Farm to export the macaques.
Animal rights groups had
slammed the district court’s ruling, in which Judge Ilan S.
that the Israel Nature and Parks Authority must permit the macaques to be
exported to Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories in the US.
its website, Shin Nippon is a preclinical contract research organization that
specializes in nonhuman primate and small animal research. Israeli and
international animal rights groups, including PETA, allege that Shin Nippon has
a record of cruelty to the animals in its laboratories, which Shin Nippon
The attorney-general has already said there are legal
difficulties with the issue of permits to export the macaques for animal testing
in a US laboratory, and in a High Court hearing last month, Justices Salim
Joubran, Hanan Melcer and Yoram Danziger said they accepted that
In an earlier written response to the High Court petition last
month, the attorney-general said 70 of the 90 macaques earmarked for export had
been captured in the wild and that it was therefore illegal to trade in
In Friday’s supplementary legal opinion, Weinstein said that the
purpose of this approach regarding trading in monkeys trapped in the wild was to
“reduce ecological impact and to reduce intervening in nature to a
Furthermore, the attorneygeneral said, this approach “reduces
the suffering caused by taking the monkeys from their country of origin and
transporting them to Israel, and their transition to life in
In this light, Weinstein said, “it is enough that the female
monkeys were used for breeding on a farm and that their offspring will be used
for medical research, and they themselves should not be used for medical
In summary, the attorneygeneral said in his supplementary
response, there is a balance between the interest of the female monkeys trapped
in the wild, and that of [Mazor Farm] to export them, as well as that of
That balance, Weinstein said, means that those
female macaques trapped in the wild must not be exported from Mazor
The attorney-general noted that the Israel Nature and Parks
Authority had said the entire shipment of macaques – including those born in
captivity – should not be exported, because there was no qualified approval for
the experiments at Shin Nippon.
The response also noted that the Israel
Nature and Parks Authority had reexamined the issue of export permits, following
the High Court hearing in April, and had also said that monkeys trapped in the
wild should not be exported.
On Friday, Let The Animals Live said it
welcomed the attorney-general’s position, which “makes it clear that Mazor Farm
is trying to trade monkeys in violation of Israeli law and policy.”
is another chapter in the sad history of Mazor Farm, which is a commercial
business responsible for the abduction of wild monkeys and for trading them and
their offspring,” a spokesman for the organization said.