More than two dozen squirrel monkeys who had been the subjects of nicotine research have been moved out of a lab in Arkansas following outcry from famed British primatologist Jane Goodall.
The 26 monkeys taken out of the lab are now being housed at a sanctuary in Florida, according to the Gainesville Sun.
The monkeys had been subjected to a nicotine addiction research study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The study began in 2014 and was suspended last year after four of the monkeys died, according to the Associated Press.
The monkeys are reportedly the first ever to be released by the FDA.
The FDA said three of the monkeys died from anesthesia-related causes and the other death was related to bloat.
Kari Bagnall, the founder and director of the Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary in Gainesville, Fla., said the intervention of Goodall played a critical role in getting the FDA to halt the experiments, the Gainesville Sun reported.
Gooddall wrote a letter to the FDA last year, calling the study “cruel and unnecessary.”
“To continue performing nicotine experiments on monkeys when the results of smoking are well-known in humans — whose smoking habits can be studied directly — is shameful,” she wrote.
Gooddall alleged the study involved giving nicotine directly to the monkey’s bloodstreams. The animals were then taught to press levers in order to be given more nicotine.
The study was suspended by FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb following Gooddall’s pushback, according to the AP.
Gottlieb said in January that the lab did not have adequate oversight and failed to meet the agency’s animal welfare standards.
The monkeys are native to Central and South America.
“They’ve never been outside. They’ve always been around people with protective wear and masks. We have to build up their antibodies and we’re giving them all kinds of good stuff,” Bagnall told the Gainseville Sun.
“They were bred for research and sold to the FDA for the nicotine study. The good thing about these guys that’s different from a lot of the labs is that they had them socialized with other monkeys. Others have kept them isolated so they don’t know how to act like a monkey and interact with other monkeys.”
Bagnall said the monkeys will not be given any cigarettes if they ask.