A Maltese animal rights group is calling on a Malta-based airline to stop flying primates to the US for research and testing. 

Animal Liberation Malta said on Saturday it was joining Action for Primates, One Voice, Stop Camarles and PeTA in urging Maleth Aero, based in San Ġwann, to refuse to play a role in what it said was a cruel and immoral trade.

Members of the group told the media on Saturday that Maleth Aero had become the latest airline to start transporting hundreds of long-tailed macaques from Cambodia to US laboratories. 

They claimed the most recent shipment took place on September 1, with a reported 360 monkeys being flown from Cambodia to Houston, Texas, via Tbilisi, Georgia. The whole trip lasted some 30 hours, and the primates were transported as cargo in crates.

Video by Action for Primates

"They may have had to endure inadequate ventilation, noise, extreme temperature fluctuations and delays on route," Haroon Ali said.

He added that such a trip is traumatic for sentient beings who would also be suffering the agony of having been torn from their families and social groups.

"It is heartbreaking to know the unimaginable suffering and death they still face at their destination - likely victims of the toxicity (poisoning) testing industry."

Apart from animal welfare concerns, Ali also flagged concern over conservation issues, since the long-tailed macaque is an endangered species with a decreasing population trend, he added. 

Next to him, ALM members held placards reading "stop animal testing" and "Maleth stop shipping monkeys to laboratories".

Last month, ALM joined an international call to investigate reports that the airline was involved in shipping hundreds of endangered monkeys to the US for testing.

It called on animal lovers to write to Maleth Aero to urge them to stop their involvement in flying the endangered monkey.

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