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#NotProperty: COVID research monkeys destined for Miami spur First Amendment and animal rights battle

Monkeys to be used for research have been in increasingly short supply as pharmaceutical companies compete in the race to find a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.

AILA SLISCO: An attempt to ship lab monkeys destined for COVID-19 vaccine research from Africa to Florida reportedly set off a secretive legal battle over animal rights and First Amendment issues. Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko on Tuesday unsealed records in a legal dispute centered on the cancellation of a lab monkey shipment to Miami in July… Shipping company International Logistics Support launched a pair of lawsuits against air carrier Skybus Jet Cargo over shipments that had been set to go to both Florida and California…

Skybus was pressured by animal rights advocates to drop the Florida shipment, leading to a legal dispute over a $500,000 deposit. The case was hidden from the public in a “secret docket” in an attempt to “avoid substantial injury to innocent third parties” that the logistics company described as “minor children,” although no human children were involved… The confidential status of the case was challenged by First Amendment advocate and paralegal Michael Barfield, who filed the motion to unseal the court records…

The logistics company’s second lawsuit against Skybus concerned a planned shipment of monkeys to researchers in California. The shipment was reportedly canceled due to “a campaign of harassment and intimidation” from “certain political activist organizations.” An attempt to seal court records in the case was unsuccessful…

Research monkeys have been in increasingly short supply as pharmaceutical companies race to find a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. The problem was exacerbated when China, which had been the source of the majority of monkeys used in U.S. research, halted exports of lab animals following the initial outbreak of the virus. SOURCE…

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