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One of the cynomolgus monkeys that had escaped after a crash spotted in a tree near Danville, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Stefani Reynolds/Pennsylvania state police/AFP/Getty Images

What happened to the lab monkeys?

Multiple news outlets have reported that on Jan. 22 a pickup truck pulling a trailer carrying approximately 100 monkeys crashed with a dump truck in Pennsylvania on their way to a CDC quarantine facility in an undisclosed location. Four escaped and were accounted for as of Jan. 23, but no one has reported on the ultimate outcome for the monkeys who did not escape.


Crates with monkeys were scattered across the highway after the crash. Photograph: Jimmy May/AP

The Smithsonian Magazine reported Jan. 26 that, “In an email to AP, CDC spokesperson Kristen Norlund said the three escaped monkeys were euthanized by gunshot but did not explain why. The remaining monkeys will be monitored and quarantined for 31 days before their release, per the Philly Voice.” Released to where they did not say.

WJAC-TV, Blair County, Pennsylvania, recorded a video of the gunshots used to “humanely euthanize” three of the escaped monkeys. The fourth monkey was apparently later captured and similarly euthanized.

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One woman who had contact with the monkeys developed pink eye (from monkey saliva) and is being treated for prevention of rabies. Several news reports state that the monkeys, which can cost as much as $10,000, are considered desirable for Covid vaccine experimentation. If they were going to a quarantine facility, were they sick? Will their presence in the country pose a health threat?

A representative from the CDC said the agency did not own or operate the unnamed facility, they were just required to approve it in order to allow the monkeys to be let into the country from Africa. They arrived at JFK via Kenya Airways from Mauritius, an island off the eastern coast of Africa.

–Carolyn Cogswell | Metro Voice