When Air Canada transported 48 monkeys from breeding farms in China to Quebec last January, the airline did not know it would face the fury of animal activists worldwide. But now even though the airline has refused to carry primates used for laboratory experiments, the Canadian Transportation Agency says it needs to wait for a hearing before they can stop the shipments.
Last January the monkeys were carried in cramped wooden crates to Quebec to be used for laboratory experiments. Animal welfare organizations fumed after they received a tip from a Pearson airport employee.
The controversy dates back to 1998 when the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) said the airline could not refuse experimental wildlife shipments. At the time the CTA sided with The Primate Research Center and Wildlife Reserve of Barbados, which had complained when Air Canada refused the live shipment of monkeys.
In November last year, while pressured by animal activists, Air Canada filed an amended tariff with CTA stating,“that would enable it to discontinue transportation of non-human primates intended for research and/or experimental purposes,”
Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said in an e-mail. “It was a decision taken both to align our policies with those of many other major international carriers and in response to widespread public concern.”
But last Tuesday the CTA informed the airline that it had to wait for a hearing because the agency had received another complaint about the proposed new policy.
“Air Canada will abide by the CTA’s decision but believes all interested parties should have an opportunity to express their views before the CTA in order to achieve the best solution for all concerned,” Fitzpatrick said.
According to British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a British-based animal protection organization, Air Canada is only one of the few airlines that still carry live animals for experimental use. Some others are Air France and China Southern.
Airlines like the British Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas Airways, Delta Air Lines and China Airlines have discontinued transporting animals for experimental use.
The British organization started a letter writing campaign to stop the practice and also received support from celebrities including comedian Ricky Gervais, who commented on the Cargo Cruelty campaign,
“I was shocked to learn that some airlines transport monkeys to laboratories around the world. I support the BUAV’s Cargo Cruelty campaign and urge these airlines to take a compassionate stance and say no to monkey shipments.”
Monkeys are trapped across the world and also reared in farms for lab use. During the transit they may suffer from ailments like pneumonia, enteritis, dehydration and infection.
photo VIA Information warfare