Monkeys Used for Research in South Texas - South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Monkeys Used for Research in South Texas

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ALICE (Kiii News) - They are in the business of keeping you, me, all of us alive. But the work is highly controversial. You may not know that two of the largest breeders and importers of monkeys in the U.S.  are right here in the Coastal Bend.  They are in the business of medicine. And that means testing drugs on animals.

It's a face similar to ours, yet unfamiliar in south Texas.  But hundreds are here. If you know where to look, you can find them.  Rows and rows of huts Make up a primate colony on County Road 381. For those who've seen it, it's massive and shrouded in mystery.

We requested an interview and were denied  by Covance,  a $ 1.7 billion business that breeds the monkeys for research. And it's not the only place in town that does it. So does SNBL USA on FM 625.  We paid a visit to the property and found it protected by security cameras, and a 7,000 volt electric gate.

We did find two men who have opposite opinions on monkeys used for research. One is a primate specialist at Texas A&M Kingsville, Dr. John Buckley and Tim Ajax, the Director of the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Cotulla. Both men are intimately familiar with monkeys, but with drastically different opinions about testing drugs on them.

Ajax runs a sanctuary for hundreds of primates and many of them were once lab animals. They are brought to the sanctuary to live out their years in peace.  He says monkeys are intelligent and social animals, needing stimulation and companionship with other monkeys. He maintains the testing on them is inhumane.

Dr. Buckley takes the other point of view that the animals are valuable to science and its testing to discover drugs necessary to combat disease. He says the alternative to animal testing is to human testing, which he says is unacceptable.

So there's the delimma: testing on animals that are so similar to us and bred by labs for testing to find out the life and death doses of drugs that will benefit mankind, or forgoing the procedures, sparing the animals, for other ways to discover what drugs are good and what kind of dose will be lethal.

But one thing is sure, these primate animals, so endearing in features and actions, do so much for their human cousins.