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An airline will stop flying lab monkeys after a truck crash in Pennsylvania led to the escape and death of several of the animals

Kenya Airways.

Thomas Dutour/Shutterstock

  • African airline Kenya Airways said it will stop the shipment of lab primates after a truck crash in Pennsylvania.
  • All 100 monkeys escaped, though three were shot and killed, prompting animal activist groups to speak up.
  • Animal rights organization PETA said it is “happy that Kenya Airways is washing its hands of this bloody business.”

African carrier Kenya Airways said it will stop flying lab monkeys to the US after a crash on a Pennsylvania highway led to the escape and death of some of the animals.

In a letter sent to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Kenya chair Michael Joseph said the airline will not renew its contract with an undisclosed shipping company that paid the carrier to fly 100 monkeys from the African island nation of Mauritius to New York.

“[T]he current contract for the transport of the Macaques (captive-bred for export) will not be renewed when it expires at the end of February,” the letter read.

Kenya CEO Allan Kilavuka echoed the chair’s message in an email to the Associated Press.

The flight made up half of the total transport of the monkeys to a US research laboratory.

The second half involved driving the primates via truck to a CDC-approved quarantine facility to be monitored for disease, reported the New York Times. However, the vehicle was involved in a crash in Pennsylvania after the driver hit a dump truck, causing the animals to escape. CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund told AP that all 100 of the monkeys were accounted for, though three were shot and killed during the search.

Crash scene in Pennsylvania where 100 monkeys escaped.Crash scene in Pennsylvania where 100 monkeys escaped.

Jimmy May/Bloomsburg Press Enterprise via AP

The primates that survived are at the CDC facility, according to the agency, though the specific location was not made public. Cynomolgus macaque monkeys, which is the breed involved in the event, have been in high demand since the pandemic for research and vaccine testing purposes because their DNA resembles that of humans, reported AP.

After the crash, PETA called on Kenya to stop the shipment of the animals, saying the practice caused the monkeys to be “tormented in experiments.” 

Kenya is not the only airline that has come under fire for flying animals, though most global carriers have stopped the transport of research primates in response to animal activists, according to PETA.

However, PETA said Air France is the only airline that has not confirmed to the organization that it has stopped the practice. According to AP, the Paris-based carrier believes animal research is essential for human health, despite years of pressure from animal rights groups and primate expert Jane Goodall.

Air France did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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