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Volga-Dnepr flies hundreds of monkeys from Vietnam to Brussels airport destined for animal testing

Nieuws: 24 november 2021

Animal Rights has received evidence that a Volga-Dnepr Airlines cargo flight landed in Brussels Zaventem airport on Monday, November 22nd, with 356 monkeys on board. Animal Rights, together with the international group Action for Primates, is further investigating what happened to the monkeys.

You can help by signing our petition to stop the transport of monkeys for animal testing via Brussels airport and sending a letter to the parties involved and asking them not to send monkeys to laboratories or otherwise be involved in this cruel industry. You can find our sample letter below. Have you witnessed animal suffering, abuse or neglect within an animal testing facility or during the transport of animals destined for animal testing? Then share this information with us at, so that with your help we can expose abuses and animal abusers can be punished.

356 monkeys landed in Brussels Zaventem airport yesterday

Animal Rights has received documentary evidence that the Russian cargo airline Volga Dnepr transported 356 live monkeys in 77 crates via flight VDA5438 from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, and with a stopover in Barnaul in Siberia, landed in Brussels Zaventem at 13:11 local time on Monday afternoon.

It is thought that Volga Dnepr has stepped into transport monkeys destined for the research industry after Vietnam Airlines stopped doing so in 2017.1 The monkeys were crammed into small individual compartments of transit crates (122 cm width x 50 cm length x 50 cm height) in which they probably could not even stand up. "The monkeys were locked in the cargo hold for over 24 hours amidst their feces and urine", Jen Hochmuth adds.

Monkey trade is a cold-hearted business

The documentation, which states that the individual weight of the monkeys ranges from 0.8 to 4.5 kg, strongly suggested the monkeys are Java monkeys and that some of them are still babies. Just last week, our colleagues at Action for Primates reported on the death of several monkeys on board a Wamos Air flight. The charter airline was transporting 720 monkeys from Cambodia to the U.S.12

Jen Hochmuth: "The monkey trade is a ruthless and shady business that has no regard for the feelings and needs of sentient beings. Any company or institution that perpetuates this, is complicit in an awful lot of animal suffering."

What is Belgium's role in all of this?

What happened to the animals after they arrived in Brussels is unclear for now. According to our research, there is no institution or handling facility in Belgium with the necessary infrastructure or permit to house 356 monkeys.

"Presumably, the animals were loaded onto another flight or crammed into trucks and thus taken to their final destination: a laboratory where they would be used for cruel and lethal experiments and undergo torture and pain," Hochmuth said.

International trade in monkeys for the laboratory animal industry

On 28th October 2021, hundreds of monkeys arrived as cargo at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in the US on an Volga-Dnepr and AirBridgeCargo aircraft, after being subjected to an extremely long and circuitous journey from Cambodia via Moscow and Amsterdam. 1 The total journey time in the air was around 24 hours, plus the additional hours spent on the ground prior to departure from Cambodia, the two stopovers en route with one change of aircraft at Moscow, and the final part of the journey to the laboratory in Texas.

Once they arrive at the laboratories, most monkeys are locked up for life in small cages and maybe subjected to invasive surgery, toxicity ( poisoning) testing, infected with diseases or forced to become addicted to drugs and then killed. Every year thousands of monkeys from countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Mauritius are transported around the world to be locked up in laboratories and tormented in experiments. Some are bred in captivity in factory-like farms, while others are snatched from their families in the wild. The traumatized monkeys are crammed into small wooden crates and sometimes transported for more than a day in the dark and terrifying cargo holds of airplanes.

Sarah Kite, Co-founder, Action for Primates stated: ''Airlines, such as Volga Dnepr, play a key role in the cruel international trade in monkeys for research by transporting them around the world as cargo. The trauma and suffering experienced by these intelligent and sentient beings is shocking and it is shameful that Europe is involved by importing thousands of long-tailed macaques from Vietnam and Mauritius to be used in experiments and testing in European laboratories; many destined to be used in toxicity (poisoning) testing in contract research laboratories.''

Take immediate action below to stop this!

Almost every major airline in the world refuses to transport non-human primates destined for research but Volga-Dnepr reportedly continues to be involved in this cruel business by flying monkeys to laboratories

Write a letter to Volga-Dnepr Airlines to let them know that this is unacceptable cruelty. The airline should join the vast majority of airlines that ban the transport of primates destined for laboratories and laboratory suppliers. You can email the airline at,,, and

The Animal Care & Inspection centre, located in the cargo area of Brussels Airport, was responsible for conducting the inspection upon arrival of the monkeys in Brussels. As of June 1, 2021, The Animal Care & Inspection center was in operation. You can email them at

Jen Hochmuth: "Almost every major airline in the world has placed an embargo on the transport of monkeys, but Volga-Dnepr reportedly continues to be involved in this cruel business, by flying monkeys to laboratories. It is shameful that Volga-Dnepr Airlines and the Animal Care & Inspection center may be complicit in this ethically reprehensible industry."

Feel free to use our sample letter, but remember that it is always more effective to use your own words.

Sample Letter

I am writing to urge you to immediately stop transporting and handling shipments of monkeys destined for laboratories and laboratory suppliers. Almost all major airlines in the world refuse to transport these sentient beings to laboratories, where they are routinely mutilated, poisoned, deprived of food and water, forcibly strapped into primate chairs, infected with painful and deadly diseases, psychologically tormented and killed.

In addition, they suffer the stress of long and grueling transportation in the cargo holds of airplanes and on the backs of trucks. For these reasons, almost every major commercial airline in the world refuses to ship monkeys to laboratories or laboratory suppliers.

It is a shame that Volga-Dnepr Airlines and the Animal Care & Inspection center may be participating in this ethically reprehensible industry.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Animal Rights online port for animal suffering in the laboratory animal industry

Animal Rights opened the online reporting portal in 2020 where people can report confidentially on animal suffering in the laboratory animal industry.

In addition, Animal Rights informs people about cruelty-free innovative, human-relevant approaches in science and medicine through its ‘Animal Free Science’ campaign.

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