In 2003 the nation of Nepal decided to allow captive breeding of rhesus monkeys for research and export, despite monkeys being sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. Two facilities were established but only one amassed monkeys. From the start Nepal-based groups protested and even sued the government to block the plans. Monkey supporters held demonstrations in the streets of Kathmandu. A mountain guide carried a banner calling on Nepal to “Stop the Monkey Business” to the summit of Mount Everest. Meanwhile one US-supported facility in Lele had acquired over 300 monkeys.
In August Nepal's new Forest Minister, Mr. Deepak Bohara, ordered the Lele facility to be closed down and all 300 monkeys to be rehabilitated and released. A colony this large has never been released before, making such a feat the largest endeavor of its kind. Nepal-based animal groups are looking for funds and expertise for the unprecedented project and working to make sure the Minister's order sticks.