Animal Research Amendment (Primates) Bill 2016

Current status

Primates are virtually the only animals taken from the wild in large numbers for biomedical research. Even though breeding colonies exist, it is still estimated that over 1,000,000 primates are taken every year from the wild, with over two thirds being used for biomedical research. NSW Sydney facility at Wallacia breeds primates in captive colonies for research.

A great ape research ban, or severe restrictions on the use of great apes in research, is currently in place in the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and Austria. These countries have ruled that chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans are cognitively so similar to humans that using them as test subjects is unethical. Austria is the only country in the world where experiments on lesser apes, the gibbons, are completely banned too.

An Argentinian association of lawyers for animal rights named AFADA also made so-called ‘Great Writ’ habeas corpus applications for an orangutan named Sandra and a chimpanzee named Cecilia. Basically the habeas corpus for Sandra in the Buenos Aires zoo failed, yet the Cámara Federal de Casación Penal nevertheless ruled in brief and without explanation in December 2014 that Sandra was ‘a subject of rights’. Sandra thus became not an ‘object’, as animals traditionally are legally, but presumably a ‘person’. The legal status was clarified in October in a ruling by Argentinian Justice Elena Amanda Liberatori in another case with the orangutan Sandra. Liberatori called Sandra “una persona no humana” or “a non-human person” and ordered the city of Buenos Aires to provide what is “necessary to preserve her cognitive abilities.”

What’s wrong with medical research using animals?

The use of animals for research and testing is totally unacceptable, inaccurate and outdated. Instead, Australian researchers should be using non-animal research methods which have been proved to be more accurate and of greater relevance, producing improved results faster.

In 2013 Humane Research Australia commissioned a Nexus Research Poll which revealed that most Australians (60%) are opposed to the use of primates in research.

Biomedical and pharmaceutical research claims the lives of an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 non-human primates worldwide each year, fuelling the primate trade to meet demand. Despite this, strong evidence suggests that research using animal models provides unreliable results. Increasing numbers of scientists and clinicians are challenging animal experimentation on medical and scientific grounds. Some examples of this evidence are listed below:

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the US found that nine out of the ten drugs successfully tested on animals will fail in humans.