Thousands have taken a defiant stance against “vicious” experiments at a Potters Bar monkey testing facility.

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition urging the Government to cut funding to the National Institute for Biological Standards, in Blanche Lane.

Launched by animal rights group the Anti-Vivisection Coalition, members believe there are other alternatives to using the animals.

Head of the UK branch, Luke Steele, said: “The monkeys are suffering. The experiments are cruel and vicious, they restrain them for hours at a time and inject them with poison.

“I’d like to see the funding revoked and for the monkeys to be replaced. The public have all been on our side with this, everyone’s been shocked and they’ve all wished us well.

“It’s simply an appalling situation.”

Last month, more than 50 people from the AVC gathered outside the NIBSC in protest against the experiments.

They argued the laboratory is not producing new life-saving drugs but is in fact still testing old drugs on animals, while more advanced methods are available.

Protestors are also keen to see the monkey’s returned to sanctuaries.

But the NIBSC say it has done more than any other laboratory in the world to reduce its dependance on animals for medicines testing.

In a statement, it said the animals are kept in “excellent” conditions and are extremely well looked after by staff.

It added: “Our animal work is a crucial part of the work we do to protect public health, for example to help us carry out independent safety testing of vaccines that all our children receive or in the fight to eliminate HIV.

“All of our research is regulated by the Home Office and research is only permitted when there is no alternative research technique and the expected benefits outweigh any possible adverse effects.”