Animal Testing Facility Paid $4,500 Fine for Primate Killed in Cage Cleaning at Reno

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Animal Testing Facility Paid $4,500 Fine for Primate Killed in Cage Cleaning at Reno

[Ed. Note: For more information about primates in labs, visit Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN).]

By Steve Timko on RGJ.com

Cage washers sterilize the enclosures, meaning that this primate was literally boiled alive.

An animal testing facility paid a $4,500 fine for killing a primate by leaving it in a cage before sending it through a cage cleaner last April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today.

The $4,500 for one crab-eating macaque that Charles River Laboratories killed last April at its Longley Lane facility is almost half of the $10,000 it paid the USDA after a May 28, 2008, incident in which severe heat led to the deaths of 32 primates in the company’s lab on Dunn Circle in Sparks.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spokesman Dave Sacks said no information was available on how the USDA reached the $4,500 figure.

Amy Cianciaruso, associate director of public relations for Charles River, acknowledged Tuesday the laboratory had been fined for the incident last year but said she did not know the amount.

The incident was documented in a June inspection of the facility by the USDA and brought to light Tuesday by the animal advocacy group Stop Animal Exploitation Now!

The group charged commercial cage washers “sterilize the enclosures, meaning that this primate was literally boiled alive.”

Cianciaruso acknowledged the macaque died as a result of being put through the cage washer, but the specific cause of death was not determined.

“This unfortunate incident was the result of human error,” Charles River said in a statement. “We have enhanced our quality control processes at the Reno facility and have implemented these best practices at all of our sites globally. We expect these actions will preclude the recurrence of a similar event.”

The USDA report said Charles River workers twice signed off that there were no animals in the cage. They were supposed to check before a pre-cleaning and before putting the cage into the washer, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service report said.

“Since an animal died, the training was not of sufficient frequency to remind the people to thoroughly look for animals before having the cages washed,” the report said. “This is important for the health and safety of all the animals.”

The company said several human errors led to the animal’s death. As a result of the laboratory’s investigation, five additional preventive measures were added to the standard operating procedures to enhance communication among workers during the cage changeover. Cameras in the dirty cage staging area were added and practices were updated at all Charles River sites, the company said.

“Providing humane and high quality care is a priority for Charles River,” the company statement said. “Our work is an essential component of the research that has led to new discoveries and has played a vital role in countless medical advances for humans as well as animals.”