Queen guitarist Brian May and wildlife expert Bill Oddie have teamed up with the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) to add their support to the Stop the Baby Trade campaign.
A ban on wild-caught primates being imported for use in UK laboratories was put into place in the UK in 1997 but this ban does not extend to the offspring of monkeys caught from the wild. The wild monkeys are captured, forced to breed and the babies are then taken from their mothers when they are around six months of age to be later exported into the UK.
Brian May and Bill Oddie attended a parliamentary reception at the House of Commons as part of the BUAV Stop the Baby Trade campaign. Also present were MPs, primatologists, scientists and BUAV chief executive Michelle Thew. The event was hosted by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP, who has tabled an Early Day Motion(EDM), urging the government to disassociate the UK from the trade. Field biologist and conservationist Ian Redmond was guest speaker.
The EDM has been signed by 84 MPs so far including former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy MP, former Oscar winning actress and MP Glenda Jackson and Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood.
Dr Brian May CBE said:
"The imprisonment and abuse of wild animals must stop. BUAV has uncovered evidence of monkeys ripped from their jungle homes and families, and forced to produce babies who will be shipped to laboratories around the world. The UK plays a major part in allowing this cruel trade to continue by importing monkeys from countries such as Mauritius for British laboratories. On behalf of the Save-Me foundation, I call on the Government to cut all ties with this cruel trade immediately, and fully support the BUAV's campaign to Stop the Baby Trade."
Figures from the BUAV show that around 2000 young primates were brought into the UK in 2009 and the majority of them were imported from Mauritius. Earlier this year actor and comedian Ricky Gervais backed the campaign and designer Meg Matthews has also spoken out in support of the BUAV's Stop the Baby Trade campaign.
Voicing his support for the campaign, Bill Oddie said:
"To me this issue is not whether or not animals should ever be used in medical research, it is about the utterly unacceptable and blatantly cruel conditions in which monkeys are trapped, transported and kept. I fully support the BUAV's campaign to Stop the Baby Trade."
More about the campaign can be found on the BUAV website. People who want to get involved can find more details here.