Space Race to Torture Monkeys: ADI Tells Russian Federal Space Agency Primate Experiments – “Not in Our Name”

Animal Defenders International (ADI), the leading animal welfare organization that works globally for the protection of animals, launched a campaign to secure public support to prevent the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) from performing radiation experiments on monkeys as part of plans to travel to Mars.

This follows a major ADI public and Congressional drive in the U.S. to try and prevent NASA from proceeding with similar experiments on squirrel monkeys.

ADI will be working with VITA, a non-profit animal protection organisation based in Moscow which works to prevent cruelty towards animals in Russia, to raise awareness on this issue. The campaign attracted considerable support from within the space exploration industry, including a leading cosmonaut, an astronaut, former NASA employees and the European Space Agency has stated that it considers monkey experiments unnecessary.

Photographs obtained by ADI from inside the laboratory in Abkhazia where the tests are being performed show the small barren cages where the monkeys are forced to live and how the animals are severely restrained during the tests. This type of restraint has been shown to be so stressful to monkeys that they may suffer rectal prolapse as a result. The monkeys will be exposed to radiation and will endure horrific side effects while the Russian space researchers investigate the effects of radiation on the life expectancy of the monkeys as well as the risk of cancer.

Tim Phillips, ADI’s Vice President said: “Russia and the U.S. appear to be locked into a space race to torture monkeys but it is a race which will do nothing to actually advance a mission to Mars. There are humane alternatives which can more accurately predict the effects of space radiations on humans and NASA and Roscosmos are still years away from developing the type of radiation shielding that would be needed to protect humans travelling on a Mars mission. That is why there is such vociferous opposition to these tests from the public and within the space exploration community itself.”

It is often claimed that space exploration is done in the name of and for the benefit of all humankind. We are not opposed to space exploration but we want to make it clear that these monkey experiments are not in our name. These monkeys will suffer and die horribly and we will not be an inch closer to people standing on Mars.”

Elena Maroueva, a Director from VITA said: “The Mars 500 project brings shame on Russia and affects the reputation of the country. Achievements based on the suffering and death of animals have no place in a civilized society, especially as there is a wealth of data and alternatives in place that do not effectively torture animals.”

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Director Jean-Jacques Dordain stated that he and ESA “declines any interest in monkey research and does not consider any need or use for such results.”

ADI is calling on people to contact the Russian and US embassies in their countries.

With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, Animal Defenders International (ADI) campaigns to protect animals in entertainment; replacement of animals in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI also rescues animals in distress worldwide. ADI-gathered evidence has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them.