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The eyes of the world are on Sochi, where the Winter Olympics are starting today.

But few people know that the Sochi area is home to the world’s first primate research laboratory. It was founded in 1927 under the name “Research Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy.” The original lab was established in the town of Sukhumi on the Black Sea, formerly part of the Soviet Union. Sukhumi is now the capital of Abkhazia, a disputed area that became involved in a war with Georgia in the early 1990s.

The Sukhumi Primate Center

One group of hamadryas baboons was released to live free in the woods behind the Sukhumi facility, but it seems that most of them lost their lives during the war. Previously, many baboons were provisioned at a station in the forest; a video called “The Lost Colony” shows them emerging from the trees to feed.


The Sukhumi lab has a peculiar history, to say the least. This was the place where, among other types of research, Soviet scientists once trained monkeys to go into space and even attempted to create human-chimpanzee hybrids. The bizarre breeding experiments, fortunately, failed.


There are still around 500 monkeys at the Sukhumi lab, but in the 1980s a new, bigger companion facility was set up nearby—in Sochi, now part of Russia. The new lab (Sochi-Adler) has been billed as a “monkey farm” and is actually proposed as a tourist attraction for visitors to the Winter Olympics.

A Sochi Monkey

The Sochi-Adler lab has increased its primate holdings. According to its Web site, the lab now holds over 4,000 monkeys and is committed to the large-scale breeding of African and Asian primates. Areas of interest to researchers there include cancer, viruses, and infectious diseases.


So, while you are enjoying the Winter Olympics, spare a thought for the thousands of monkeys suffering at the laboratories down the road.



  1. Windy on February 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Animal testing is old inhumane science. We are supposed to be an evolved species :(

  2. angela Cunningham on February 8, 2014 at 3:44 am

    Stop this barbaric practice now

  3. alinda Barcklay on February 8, 2014 at 8:36 am

    This is so disheartening.I dislike intensely, all research on animals.Monkey farms are an abomination.

  4. lynne leakey on February 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    No testing on monkeys needed. These days we humans are the “labrats” for Monsanto and other biochemoical companies. Get rid of what they are experimently and unproven for safety putting into into our food, and the cancers and other diseases would decline. We should have moved way beyond intolerance and torturing intelligent beings with horrid experiments AND parading that as a tourist attraction! Shame on you Sochi. What century are you living in?

  5. Lola on February 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    disgusting cruelty

  6. rinki banerji on February 9, 2014 at 1:10 am

    shame, now the whole world knows!!!!

  7. Sharon Livsey on February 9, 2014 at 4:34 am

    this horrible practice needs to stop and people visiting the Olympics should go and see these monkeys and tell the staff what they think!!!

  8. Nicki Darling-Finan on February 9, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    This is completely outmoded – and unnecessary. Please think about what you are doing to these animals in your laboratories. They are suffering – and for what?

  9. cecelia childers on February 9, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Man has ALWAYS taken advantage of those beings he’s regarded as less than; from black slavery to the Nazis’ experimentation and extermination of Jews. There’s nothing left to legally exploit and sacrifice, for the advancement of Man and his understanding of scientifically based knowledge about ourselves, than animals. In days far gone, when we got sick, we died. When a disease process began, it ran its course, and we succumbed. Since we’ve discovered that we can do unspeakable things to animals, and shrug it off as the advancement of Man, few historically took notice; and if they did, they were admonished, citing the importance of scientific discovery. Just because we’ve found creatures similar to us, does not make it right to take away their freedom, shoot them full of chemicals and disease, control every aspect of their being, make them to suffer HORRIBLY, test everything we can think of on them, and justify their profound suffering by citing human advancement; its SICKENING to me. If we want information, then we should have the courage to foist such a prospect on ourselves. There is plenty of opportunity and circumstances under which such studies can be accomplished. We have TONS of human history to guide us. Animals may not be able to verbally protest, but doesn’t that add to our responsibility of being good stewards unto them? Most humbly I submit that no species has a right to violate or enslave another, no matter their lofty goals. Time after time we see the FACT that animals, especially those closest to our genealogy, DEFINITELY feel all KINDS of emotions! Animals KNOW when one of them dies, they KNOW when their lives are about to end (ask any pig, cow, horse, or elephant). And oh, what if they COULD speak, what would they have to say about US?! I would HOPE that they would find us kind, benevolent, compassionate; GOOD stewards of their defenselessness against humans and their weapons and cruelty. I was raised with the golden rule, do unto others…. I think animals should have the right to be treated with respect. If they are taken for food, be grateful. However, those closest to us should be even more defended and cared for. They DEPEND on us for their survival, whether it be the stopping of taking their habitats away, or providing a means for their survival; WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY for taking care of them, not torturing or victimizing them.

  10. melody depommier on February 10, 2014 at 6:42 am

    help the monkeys

  11. Marga on February 11, 2014 at 3:21 am

    It’s appalling what Russia is doing. In many respects Russia has nothing to brag about.STOP THIS HORRENDOUS practice!!!!

  12. Cristina Elena Dunat on February 11, 2014 at 9:07 am


  13. Irmgard on February 18, 2014 at 3:09 am

    I do not watch the “Putin Show”! Putin is an unscrupulous dictator! He throws his opponents, critical journalists and activists in jail! Some disappear or die a mysterious death! So many strays were killed before the Olympics “to clean the streets”!

  14. Linda on February 22, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    The dark ages are over. Are these researchers not evolved enough to do experiments without torturing animals to death. No animal deserves to be tortured. Monkeys need to be free. Many of these experiments really do not help humans. If they want to experiment on living beings, they should be experimenting on child molesters, serial killers and animal abusers. Leave these intelligent beautiful animals alone. STOP TORTURING ANIMALS EVIL PEOPLE.