Mauritius: Paradise for some, misery for others

Written by Cruelty Free International – the leading organisation working to end animal experiments worldwide:

Mauritius is a popular holiday destination due to its beaches, tropical climate, and heritage sites. However, many people are unaware that Mauritius is one of the world’s largest suppliers of monkeys to laboratories round the world. Across the island there are numerous ‘farms’ holding tens of thousands of monkeys; many were captured from the wild and are imprisoned for breeding. Their offspring are exported overseas in small wooden crates in cargo holds, often on the same planes as tourists. This is a side to the island that holidaymakers certainly will not learn from the glossy travel brochures.

A new survey commissioned in Europe by Cruelty Free International revealed that this trade in monkeys is having a negative impact upon Mauritius tourism. The survey shows that as ethical tourism becomes more important to holidaymakers and the tourist industry, it can be a key concern for travellers when choosing a holiday destination. Fifty-seven percent of those people interviewed do not want to support a country which practices this cruelty to monkeys and would like to see an end to the trade in monkeys for experiments; a further 14% of people interviewed believed that their actions can make a stand against the monkey trade. The message is clear; the island’s monkey trade is causing people to reconsider choosing Mauritius as a holiday destination.

Examples from other countries have demonstrated that animal welfare concerns expressed by tourists can make a difference with travel operators. Blackfish, the infamous documentary about the issue of Orcas in captivity has led to a decline in attendance at Sea World, falling profits and a serious decline in stock market value. Segments of the tourism industry are also responding to ethical concerns raised by customers about the treatment of animals in certain countries. For example, many global tour operators have removed elephant rides from its itinerary and various large scale travel agencies are prohibited elephant ride tours, visits to the Tiger Temple in Thailand, as well as trips to SeaWorld in Orlando and San Diego.

Over the years, countries, such as Thailand, India, and Bangladesh have banned the export of monkeys for research purposes. More recently Israel took the decision to ban the export of wild animals for experiments – now the attention falls on Mauritius. The Mauritius Tourism Promotional Authority is currently working hard to promote and market Mauritius as a ‘green’ tourist destination; something we consider to be inconsistent with its major role in the international trade in monkeys for research. In fact, this trade is economically insignificant compared with tourism. The income generated from monkey exports represents only 0.88% of all exports and only 2% of what is generated from tourism.

Save Our Monkeys campaigns to raise awareness of and to end the cruel exploitation of the monkeys in Mauritius. We appeal to tourists who may be considering a holiday in the country, to raise their concerns with the Mauritius Ministry of Tourism and the Mauritius Tourism Promotional Authority and to urge them to recognise the impact the monkey trade is having upon the international reputation of Mauritius as a holiday paradise. Watch and share our video, which reveals why Mauritius is a paradise for some but misery for others:

You can make a difference! Here is how you can help:

  • Contact your local MTPA Office expressing your concerns about the monkey trade of Mauritius:
  • Sign our petition calling upon the Mauritius government to end the trade:
  • For further information please visit:

About the author

Kai Ulrik

Hi - I joined tourism concern as a volunteer in early 2014 and have been assisting with research and membership. I have a background in environmental management and business administration; with a Master's degree in Environmental management and policy. I am an avid traveller with key interests in community based tourism & highlighting the impacts of All-inclusive holidays.

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