Animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) issued a statement following photos released by Iran depicting a monkey the Islamic Republic has sent into space, saying they were "appalled."
Tehran on Monday boasted the successful launch of a live monkey into space, inside a research pod. Iran said it had launched the pod, named Pishtam ("pioneer") to an altitude of 120 kilometers and that both the pod and the monkey were recovered safely after the landing.
PETA denounced the act, saying that Iran was "Repeating the wasteful and cruel mistakes that marked the darkest days of the space race."
The group urged Dr. Hamid Fazeli, head of the Iranian Space Agency, to ground the misguided mission back in 2011, citing that primates are no longer sent into space by the American or European space agencies.
"We are appalled by photos of a visibly terrified monkey crudely strapped into a restraint device in which he was allegedly launched into space by the Iranian Space Agency," the PETA statement said.
"Monkeys are highly intelligent and sensitive animals who not only are traumatized by the violence and noise of a launch and landing but also suffer when caged in a laboratory before and – if they survive – after a flight.
"NASA ended the use of primates in space radiation experiments in the early 1990s, when it determined that the results were not relevant to human astronauts.
PETA added that the European Space Agency (ESA) has publicly stated that it "declines any interest in monkey research and does not consider any need or use for such results." The ESA instead employs modern technology such as the state-of-the-art simulators to assess health risks for astronauts.