Inhumane Monkey Business Mural in Tel Aviv, Israel


Taking the pledge to save the primates

The spectrum of animal cruelty still looms large even in an age when responsible organizations have tried their best to raise the much-needed awareness against this practice. A number of big corporations, especially in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries have refused to let go of animal testing.

And yet, many people have no clue that such a trade exists. It is almost like a throwback to another era where ethics meant little in the face of corporate profits.

Primates are used for testing purposes, for products ranging from toiletries to medicine, captured from the wilderness, mostly from the African Savannah's. They are also used for brain surgeries. In 2015, more than 700,000 animals were medically experimented upon in the US.

By end-2018, that number had leaped to more than 800,000. Around 52% of all Americans say they do not support animal testing.

I have recently painted a mural at the Ironi Art High School in Tel Aviv as part of my anti-animal testing campaign when I realized why this trade still thrived: a surprising but methodically executed lack of awareness.

The conditions in which these creatures are shipped are inhuman, to say the least. Together, we can make this trade stop once and for all.


Cruelties on those who cannot speak

The animal testing industry’s lust for market control and business domination knows no bounds. As consumers demanded newer products and innovations every year, the testing companies reaped windfall profits. There was no accountability in place, and organizations like PETA did not exist since 1980.

Even with the RSPCA and PETA in play today, the trade continues to flourish in some countries.

Squirrel monkeys, more specifically, are in high demand because their responses are very similar to humans, a logical acceptance for accurate testing. Infants are taken from their kin, and are grown in temperature-controlled environments as test subjects.

Primates are known for cognitive plus emotional abilities, which are uncannily human. A chimpanzee can be trained to use American Sign Language or AFL, for example.

So, how is it that we turn a blind eye to their suffering? Well, one reason is that most people do not realize that the shampoo or lotion that they have picked up online or from their supermarket stores have been tested on animals, primates in particular.

What my mural in Tel Aviv strives to inculcate is a sense of urgency in our collective appeals to the industry to stop these procedures. There are enough scientifically validated alternatives to animal testing that exist nowadays.

Using science as a shield to practice unethical business practices can no longer be accepted.


Make a start: go for testing-free products

You can make a conscious effort by sticking to only those brands which are not tested on animals. It will not affect your finances much, but you can enrich your conscience.

You can also aid various non-profit agencies like the Israeli Primate Sanctuary, one of the most renowned primate-conservation societies. They have rehabilitated hundreds of tortured primates and have set an example for other entities to follow.

You can also donate to charities that work against animal cruelty, support legislation that proposes alternatives to animal dissection and effective non-animal testing, buy cruelty-free products, and spread awareness about the perils of these tests.

Support independent artists like me so that we continue taking small steps towards increased awareness.

Read and support The Hastings Centre and other similar foundations.

Above all, take a stand. Say no to animal cruelty.