Baby long-tailed macaque monkey R.
(photo credit: reuters)
The High Court of Justice on Tuesday issued an interim injunction that suspended
the shipment of 90 long-tailed macaque monkeys from a breeding farm in Israel to
a US laboratory.
The decision came following a petition against the
exports by animal rights group Let The Animals Live (Ten Lehayot Lihiyot) and is
the latest stage in a long legal battle over the monkeys’ shipment to the
Immediately following the petition last week, the High Court issued a
temporary injunction pending a further decision on advancing the petition to a
panel hearing. Following that decision, on Tuesday morning Supreme Court Justice
Hanan Melcer issued an an interim injunction to replace the temporary order, and
said the petition will be heard by a panel of justices after the Passover
Melcer also ordered Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to file a
legal opinion to the court regarding the matter of exporting monkeys for
Let the Animals Live spokeswoman Eti Altman welcomed the
court ruling regarding the interim injunction as well as its decision to hear
the petition after the Passover holiday.
“I hope that Passover, the
holiday of freedom, will have a double meaning and that we will all hear and see
these monkeys released into their natural habitat,” Altman said.
response to the court’s decision, Let the Animals Live said that the trade in
primates was “illegal and contrary to Israeli policy.” Said Altman, “We find it
hard to believe that the outrageous conduct of the [Israel] Nature and Parks
Authority [INPA] continues in this regard.”
The organization petitioned
the High Court in the wake of a Central District Court ruling a week ago, which
allowed the Mazor Farm monkey breeding farm near Petah Tikva to export 90 female
macaques to the US for experimentation. Mazor Farm petitioned the district court
after the INPA delayed its export permit for the monkeys.
groups had slammed the Central District Court’s ruling, in which Judge Ilan S.
Shilo held that the INPA must permit the macaques to be exported to Shin Nippon
Biomedical Laboratories (SNBL) in the US.
According to its website, SNBL
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 SNBL has a record of cruelty to the animals
in its laboratories, which SNBL denies.
In their petition, Let The
Animals Live argued that exporting the macaques violated the Environmental
Protection Ministry’s policy because the animals would be used in experiments
that did not have the medical aim of of saving human lives or reducing suffering
The petition also contends that the export would be illegal
because 70 of the 90 monkeys were not bred in captivity but captured in the
wild. Let The Animals Live claims that fact contravenes Mazor Farm’s license,
which permits it to sell only those primates whose ancestors were born in
On Monday, the INPA and Mazor Farm filed their responses to
Mazor Farm asked the court to reject the petition, citing
the District Court ruling. The permits for the export were granted in January,
its lawyers argued, adding that the real reason for the petition was to bring
about the closure of Mazor Farm.
Mazor Farm also said the monkeys would
be used for “biomedical research aimed at life-saving or preventing suffering in
humans,” and noted that SNBL was bound by international regulations.
the Animals Live on Tuesday accused the INPA of failing to enclose in its
response to the court a letter from Environmental Protection Minister Gilad
Erdan, which stated his position on the matter.
In his letter dated
Monday, a copy of which Let Animals Live gave to The Jerusalem Post, Erdan said
Mazor Farm had not complied with Israel’s policy on trading
Erdan said in the letter that he was considering revoking the
INPA’s ability to to issue permits for primate trade for the purpose of
“I believe Israel must end its trade in primates, for
example the trade carried out by Mazor Farm,” he said.
Erdan said the
particular trade in question was “ethically and possibly also legally
flawed.”Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.