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HSI/Canada Celebrates Canadian Transportation Agency Decision Confirming Air Canada’s Right to Refuse Shipments of Primates for Research

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Every year, thousands of primates (some captured from the wild) are shipped to North America and Europe to be used in harmful experiments. iStockPhoto.com

Humane Society International/ Canada, Animal Alliance of Canada and Justice for Animals welcome a ruling by the Canadian Transportation Agency, confirming the right of Air Canada to refuse the live shipment of primates destined for laboratories, where they would be for toxicity testing, research or other harmful laboratory experiments.

“This landmark ruling confirms the right of Air Canada to refuse shipment of primates to laboratories, which is an important stimulus for more human-relevant biomedical research as well as the replacement or reduction of animal use,” said Gabriel Wildgen, campaigner for HSI/Canada. “We are very grateful to Air Canada for adopting such a progressive policy, and to the CTA for reinforcing Air Canada’s right to take a stand in favour of animal welfare and ethical science.”

“Airlines play a major role in the chain of suffering endured by non-human primates and other animals in laboratories,” says Liz White, director of Animal Alliance of Canada. “We’re delighted that Air Canada will now officially join the ranks of other progressive airlines that refuse to be party to this animal cruelty.”

“We applaud Air Canada for ending the shipment of non-human primates destined for cruel research and experimentation and for standing up to the industry groups that brought their groundless claim to the Canadian Transportation Agency,” said Zeynep Husrevoglu of Animal Justice Canada. “The Agency's decision affirms Air Canada's right to amend its tariff to reflect consumer demands and to take a stand against unnecessary animal cruelty.

HSI/Canada and Animal Alliance call on other Canadian airlines to follow Air Canada’s leadership by rejecting the shipments of animals destined for lab testing, and for Canadian research funding agencies to follow the example set by their counterparts in Europe and the United States by making a more meaningful investment in state-of-the-art human biology-based non-animal tools and technologies, which are already superseding many of the limitations of traditional animal experiments.


  • At least 63 airlines, including British Airways, United Airlines, US Airways and China Airlines, have already committed to refuse shipments of species — and in some cases all animals — destined for laboratory experiments.
  • Air Canada had previously refused such shipments in the 1990s, until a 1998 ruling by the Canadian Transportation Agency drove the airline to abandon its policy.
  • Animal Justice Canada (formerly Lawyers for Animal Welfare) provided a legal opinion to Air Canada advising a change in the wording of the airline’s cargo tariff in a way that would allow the airline to return to its original policy. Air Canada took this advice and filed notice to modify its cargo tariff in 2011.
  • The day before the change would have been implemented, industry groups challenged the tariff change with the CTA. On December 20, 2012, the CTA dismissed the challenge by industry groups and affirmed Air Canada’s right to change its tariff.
  • An animal dies in a Canadian laboratory every 10 seconds, most having known nothing but a life of stressful confinement, and often invasive experimentation. Primates are commonly sourced from intensive breeding facilities in other countries, or in some cases captured directly from the wild.
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