A Maltese animal rights group has joined an international call to investigate reports that a Malta-based airline is involved in shipping hundreds of endangered monkeys to the US for animal testing.

Animal Liberation Malta is calling on animal lovers to write to Maleth Aero, based in San Ġwann, to urge them to stop their involvement in flying the endangered monkeys, crammed in wooden crates, from various parts of the world to the US.

The alarm was first raised by Action for Primates, a UK-based project that advocates globally on behalf of non-human primates. Activists claimed they had inside information that a plane belonging to Maleth Aero, recently acquired by AELF FlightService, reportedly departed Cambodia for Houston on September 1 with 360 long-tailed macaques aboard. This followed allegations that monkeys were likely transported on two other recent Maleth Aero flights from Asia to the US.

“After being packed into cramped wooden shipping crates and forced to sit in their own feces, urine and blood for the long journey, the terrified monkeys are trucked to laboratories, in which they’ll be slowly poisoned in toxicity tests or used for other excruciating experiments before being killed,” they claimed.

This spurred a petition by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), an American animal rights organisation.

“Peta entities have managed to discourage several major airlines from transporting monkeys for testing purposes. However, the very special Malta- based airline Maleth-Aero have, of course, taken advantage of the situation,” the petition states, adding that a complaint was filed with the United States Department of Agriculture calling for an urgent investigation. 

Times of Malta tried contacting the airline, via telephone and e-mail, but no reply was received by the time of writing.

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