In the rural town of Wallacia located 68km west of Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD), there is a secret facility where baboons are bred specifically for research purposes. Information surrounding the Sydney Local Health District’s (SLHD) colony (where baboons live) is difficult to find.
Although the exact number of animals at the facility is not publicly available, the animal welfare organizations claim that their requests to tour the facility have been refused. Baboons at the Wallacia facility are believed to be kept in family groups in cages with some outside access. They are provided food.
A New South Wales (NSW) Health spokesman issued the following statement:
“The Australian National Baboon Colony was established to enable important biomedical research to be undertaken in Australia by leading researchers committed to advancing health through research.”
NSW Health maintains that a rigorous ethics process is required regarding animal use. The use animals for scientific experiments or medical research is allowed when it is “scientifically warranted and there are no appropriate alternatives”. However, PETA Australia alleges that something sinister was going on in the facility. PETA Australia accused the facility of breeding baboons with the intention to create an animal stock as animals used in facilities were killed during experiments. There are concerns that baboons might be suffering from many diseases and their organs might be removed.
According to some media reports, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) ceased funding to the Wallacia center in 2018 and now they do not have any role in the operations or management of the facility. Awareness of the facility came to light when three baboons, one male and two female, managed to escape while being transported to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney’s inner west.