An animal welfare organisation is calling on UK holiday companies to help protect the monkeys of Mauritius.

Cruelty Free International claims the island is one of the world’s largest traders in breeding monkeys for experiments, including to the UK.

Tens of thousands of monkeys, many of whom are captured from the wild, are held in large facilities across Mauritius before being exported overseas.

The appeal has resulted in Thomas Cook contacting Abta about the issue.

The association has agreed to act on behalf of the UK travel industry to discuss animal welfare concerns about the monkey export trade with the government, according to Cruelty Free International.

No legislation exists to protect the monkeys of Mauritius, although the species is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Cruelty Free International chief executive, Michelle Thew, said: “We are delighted Thomas Cook has raised this important issue with Abta and urge the association to put pressure on the Mauritius government.

“The international reputation of Mauritius as a paradise for tourists can only be tarnished by its association with this cruel trade in monkeys, a trade which is economically insignificant to the country compared with tourism.   

“We urge travel companies like Thomson and First Choice to use their influence and raise concerns with the Mauritius government to turn the island into a paradise for both holidaymakers and monkeys.”