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Guidelines for the Humane Transportation of Research Animals
of nonhuman primates (Robinson and Beattie, 2003). Therefore, the majority of nonhuman primate resources in the United States must be transported by air, both into the United States and generally to their final destination (see Figure 5-1 for the locations of research facilities, importation sites, and vendors of nonhuman primates). Currently, few foreign airlines will consistently transport nonhuman primates into the United States, and no US domestic airlines will transport nonhuman primates into the United States. For the purpose of transporting nonhuman primates once they are already in the United States, research institutions may use the one US domestic airline that currently transports nonhuman primates nationally (Kemnitz, J. personal communication, August 4, 2005).
The paucity of carriers that transport live animals is due, in part, to the often unprofitable nature of live-animal transportation in the air-transportation industry. For typical passenger/cargo-configured network carriers, such as the major airlines present in the US market, cargo contributes only 2 to 5% of total operating revenues. The contribution of live-animal transportation is even less significant and involves costs for personnel training and environmental controls to comply with federal regulation. In addition to the economic disincentives discussed above, several other reasons have been identified for the declining number of commercial airlines that will transport nonhuman primates, including the following:
concern regarding zoonoses between nonhuman primates and humans;
the high cost of training personnel and acquiring protective equipment;
potentially higher insurance rates due to liability issues;
required disinfection of cargo areas after holding nonhuman primates;
pressure from animal rights activists; and
the potential danger associated with escapes (DePoyster, 2003).
There is no clear solution to the foreign commercial airline situation. Some organizations have started chartering private jets to import shipment of nonhuman primates to the United States (DeMarcus, 2003). This option increases the cost of transportation (DeMarcus, 2003), and private chartering companies are not immune to the pressures that led the commercial airlines to refuse to transport nonhuman primates. Though corporate research institutions have some ability to cover the cost of private charters, academic researchers utilizing nonhuman primates have no mechanism for absorbing the increased cost of transportation by private charters. In the committee’s judgment, the practical approach is to pre-