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What’s That Chimp Doing in First Class? United Bumps Non-Human Primates in Bow to PETA

After more than a year of pressure from animal-rights activists, United Airlines (UAL) has agreed to halt shipments of primates to or from medical research laboratories anywhere in the world. The decision means there are no longer any North American carriers that will transport primates for research purposes into the US or Canada.

In fact, only four carriers – Air France, China Eastern Airlines, Philippine Airlines, and Vietnam Airlines – continue to transport primates destined for experiments, according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which had been pressuring United Airlines for more than a year to adopt the policy as part of its opposition to animal testing.

“It will be much harder for cruel experimenters to get their hands on monkeys to abuse now that United has joined every other commercial airline in North America in refusing to deliver primates to certain suffering and death in laboratories,” says PETA senior vp of lab investigations Kathy Guillermo. “PETA will continue to pressure the few overseas airlines—now numbering only four—that continue this inhumane practice.”

A United Airlines spokeswoman confirmed this in an e-mail sent to us. “We do not book, accept or transport non-human primates to or from medical research facilities domestically or internationally. We do ship non-human primates between zoos and sanctuaries within the 50 United States and Puerto Rico,” she wrote.

Airlines carry freight, some of it live, to try to boost their paltry bottom lines. United's merger with Continental made it a much bigger company, but the returns so far are minor.

UAL Revenue TTM Chart

UAL Revenue TTM data by YCharts

PETA representatives tell us they had written United Airlines last week to say they would purchase stock in order to introduce a shareholder resolution that would ban primate transport. The delay in adopting the policy stemmed from the 2010 merger between United, which did not ship primates, and Continental, which transported primates for research.

However, Lisa Schoppa, the head of the United safe pet program wrote an essay on the Animal Transportation Association web site in September 2011 in which she implored employees of other airlines to permit shipment of primates for medical research.

“While a majority of the public supports the necessary use of animals in biomedical research, they are also concerned about the care and treatment of laboratory animals.

And I urge each member to take action to ensure that this research can continue and that we can someday see the end to such devastating diseases as cancer and AIDS,” she wrote.

To read the remainder of this article, go to Pharmalot.

Ed Silverman, a contributing editor of YCharts, is the founder and editor of Pharmalot. He previously reported on the pharmaceutical industry and other business topics for the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, New York Newsday and Investor’s Business Daily. He can be reached at editor@ycharts.com.

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