Officials Kill 800 Monkeys in Puerto Rico
An Animal Rights Article from


Doris Lin on
January 2010

These monkeys are yet another example of human interference in nature gone wrong, and the animals pay the ultimate price

Puerto Rican officials have killed 800 monkeys for allegedly damaging crops and natural resources. Most of the monkeys killed were patas monkeys, who are native to Africa. Also, approximately 200 rhesus monkeys were captured and sent to laboratories. According to an article in the New York Times, the monkeys escaped from research labs in the 1960s and 70s, but that isn't the whole story.

The monkeys were not just escapees. They were intentionally released, or "introduced," to two peninsulas on the island, and:

In 1974, the (Caribbean Primate Research Center), through a contract with the Food and Drug Administration, began to increase the number of breeding female rhesus monkeys to supply animals for the Sabin Poliomyelitis Virus Vaccine Program.

The monkeys were bred for their kidney epithelial cells, to make the polio vaccine.

How did researchers think that no monkeys would spread to the rest of the island if they released monkeys and intentionally increased their population on two peninsulas? These were free-ranging monkeys, not in cages or pens.

Of course, from an animal rights perspective, they shouldn't be using monkeys anyway. But expecting them not to proliferate and spread to the rest of the island defies logic, and now 800 monkeys are dead, in addition to the monkeys intentionally killed by scientists.

These monkeys are yet another example of human interference in nature gone wrong, and the animals pay the ultimate price. In September of 2009, wildlife managers in Utah started "removing" ten to twenty tons of carp per day from Utah Lake, because the introduced carp were competing with a native species that is now on the endangered species list. They plan to kill millions of carp over the next six years to try to fix the mistake of introducing the carp from Europe over 100 years ago.

And in Fort Lee, New Jersey last year, an attempt to poison pigeons unintentionally also killed grackles, another kind of bird. Health officer Steven Wielkotz stated, "The last thing we wanted to do is kill any birds." Really? Because the last time I checked, pigeons are birds. To his credit, after this debacle, Wielkotz said, "The pigeons are going to be here. We will just have to live with them."

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