WASHINGTON — Air China is no longer transporting monkeys for laboratory experiments on its flights, animal rights group PETA said Tuesday, citing an email from the airline.
"We are notified by headquarters that we have stopped conducting this business," said a one-line email from Jason Wang, Air China's New York cargo manager, to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, seen by AFP.
In a statement, PETA said the email came less than 24 hours after it asked its social media followers to call Air China in New York and demand it stop transporting Asian primates to US laboratories.
"China is the source of more than 70 percent of monkeys imported to the United States for use in cruel experiments," said PETA's senior vice president of laboratory investigations Kathy Guillermo.
"Now that Air China is no longer participating in this bloody trade, US experimenters will find it harder to get their hands on more victims."
Last year, a total of around 18,000 primates were imported into the United States from overseas for lab experiments, PETA has said.
Beijing-based Air China has been cited four times this year under US animal welfare laws over incidents in which lab-bound monkeys either ran away or suffered injuries resulting from hazardous enclosures, according to PETA.
Most major Western airlines refuse to carry primates intended for laboratories. But others -- including Air France, China Eastern, Philippine Airlines and Vietnam Airlines -- still do, PETA said.
In May, a monkey escaped from a cage inside the cargo hold of a Beijing-bound Air China flight at New York's Kennedy airport, delaying its departure for nearly four hours, local media reported.