French icon Brigitte Bardot is calling on Air France to end its involvement in the trade of monkeys for research.

She has joined the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), a coalition of leading animal protection organisations from across Europe in making the demand.

The former model, singer and actress who set up the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the welfare and protection of animals in 1986, has written to Air France and asked it to follow other airlines in adopting a policy to cancel primate shipments.

The coalition has persuaded many airlines to stop or oppose the transport of primates for research, including British Airways, Lufthansa, Czech Airlines, Finnair, Alitalia, Iberia, Swiss International Airlines and Brussels Airlines as well as non-European carriers including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Eva Air, Northwest Airlines, South African Airways, United Airlines and China Airlines.

Air France is now claimed to be the only major European passenger airline still engaged in the transportation of primates destined for the research industry.

The coalition says the airline transports monkeys from countries such as Mauritius to research laboratories in Europe and the US.

Bardot said: “In continuing the transportation of monkeys to laboratories, Air France is encouraging horrific experiments on animals. This shameful business tarnishes the company’s image and I urge Air France to review its position. Please don’t let us down.”

Michelle Thew, chief executive of the ECEAE said: “We are delighted that Brigitte Bardot has joined the many voices urging Air France to place a permanent embargo on all primate shipments.

“Air France provides a vital link between Mauritius, one of the world’s largest suppliers of monkeys, and the laboratories of Europe and the USA.

“Thanks to the campaigns of the ECEAE and growing public opposition, many other major international airlines have stopped their involvement.

“We now call on Air France to follow this trend and to dissociate itself from this cruel trade.”