Currently, there are approximately 106,000 monkeys living in U.S. laboratories (~10,000 are living in Madison, WI). Amy Kerwin founded Primates Incorporated in 2004 while she was working with 97 rhesus monkeys in a laboratory at UW Madison. She discovered their amazing intelligence and individual personalities, and concluded there had to be a way to both improve their welfare and increase the frequency of their retirement into primate sanctuaries.
She began networking with other primate sanctuaries and discovered most of them were near capacity and were forced to turn away researchers looking to do the right thing. The reality is that monkeys who are rejected from retirement are sold to more studies, kept on as breeders, or euthanized to free up their cages.
Additionally, thousands of monkeys are bought and sold in the exotic pet trade. Monkeys do not make good pets in people’s homes. They become aggressive toward humans as they age and often times are sent to a primate sanctuary as a solution. In fact most of the primate sanctuaries initially neared capacity by rescuing ex-pet monkeys. Ex-pet monkeys are very difficult to rehabilitate since they were raised in an unnatural environment with humans.