Pressure mounts to save the monkeys

Since May 16, 8 French activists have been on hunger strike. They denounce the expansion of the primatology center at the University of Strasbourg and call for its closure.

His voice is muffled, but the anger doesn’t subside: “It’s starting to be difficult, recognizes Christophe Lepretre, president of the Animavie association. But I will go all the way.” On a hunger strike for 17 days, he asks the mayor of Bas-Rhin to reconsider his decision to authorize the expansion of the primatology center at the University of Strasbourg and, ultimately, its closure.

Nestled in Fort Foch, in Niederhausbergen (Alsace), this centre, created in 1978, has always provoked protests. Out of sight, behind the high walls, (sur)live 630 primates (monkeys, lemurs, capuchins) destined for research. A third deals with semi-freedom for ethology, that is, the study of behavior. Two-thirds come from breeding farms (Mauritius, Asia, Europe) and wait in cages in the quarantine zone, then in aviaries, to end up in European experimental labs. “Granting the extension means giving the power to double the number of animals dedicated to vivisection when substitute methods exist”, explains Christophe Lepretre. And to add: “it would be desirable for a fully independent control commission to oversee the facilities. We are sure there are irregularities: this fort is in ruins and is certainly not dedicated to primates.” On her side, the center’s veterinarian, contacted by phone, defines the place as a “service platform” and says: “it is not because we double the reception capacity that we will have twice as many monkeys. The extension allows a layout of the buildings so that the animals have more space. The site meets all European regulatory standards and animal welfare rules.” Thus, in the quarantine zone, each monkey is detained, as required by law, in a cage of… 1 square meter.

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“May all current and past conditions of detention of primates be enlightened”

The association Code Animal publishes this morning photos taken at the Fort in 2011. Code Animal

Received on May 29 by the deputy mayor of Bas-Rhin, Christophe Lepretre did not see any hope: “State representatives take refuge behind the legal system. Ethics is not their problem.” “The dossier was normally investigated within the scope of the regulations applicable to the operation of the facilities with regard to the rules of the environment, the city hall responds to us by email. There was no reason to refuse. Authorization to carry out basic activities is subject to national regulations and is not the responsibility of the mayor”.

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Supported by PETA and now accompanied by 7 other hunger strikers, Christophe Lepretre has just sent a request for an audience to François Hollande to defend the cause of the primates of Niederhausbergen. The association Code Animal, which has just published on its website (code-animal.com) sordid images taken inside the Fort in 2011, asks for its part “to enlighten all the current conditions of detention and primates of the past”.

As a reminder, 11.5 million animals are tortured every year in Europe (including 2.2 million in France) for scientific purposes. Following the Stop Vivisection citizens’ initiative, which collected more than 1.2 million signatures, the European Commission received, on May 11, representatives of animal protection associations and scientists against vivisection. They ask, among other things, for a period of five years to be set as transition period towards the total disappearance of animal experimentation considered barbaric, archaic and unreliable for human health, in favor of alternative methods. The Commission must decide on June 3.

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Appointment: September 5, in Paris, demonstration against vivisection organized by CCE²A, Collective against Animal Experimentation and Exploitation, ccea.fr

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