Our society mass produces many things such as cars,
television sets, and computers. Often the things that we produce and
consume are inanimate objects and so the way in which they are treated
during production has no ethical consequences. However, our society also
mass produces many living things that have emotions, are capable of
feeling pain, of suffering.
donation will help us to continue fighting for the freedom of these
The ever increasing gravy train of federal funding which sustains animal
experimentation has produced an ever escalating demand for more victims,
more souls to be lost and ground to pieces in the machinery of our
nation’s laboratories. Because they are so like us, primates are in high
demand for producing fallacious “models” of human diseases. Also,
because primates are so like us they have an extremely high ability to
suffer. Their psychological complexity makes them even more capable of
And so, there is a demand for a seemingly endless stream of primates to
flow into the labs. This living tide of sentient beings pours into
dozens of laboratories only to flood out as so much biological waste,
bereft of everything that made them unique.
This unending demand for suffering has brought about the “monkey farm” –
a kind of facility that looks like a laboratory and may even perform
experimentation on a small scale, but whose real purpose is production.
These places are assembly lines for maiming.
Our government supports many of these facilities. The National Primate
Research Center system, a set of 8 laboratories that do both breeding
and experimentation, collectively imprisons 28,000 primates. Other
facilities like the multiple locations of the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) laboratories incarcerate 7500 primates. The SNBL lab of
Everett (WA) holds 3000, and the New Iberia Research Center of Louisiana
imprisons 6000 primates.
Despite the fact that the New Iberia lab locks up many if its prisoners
in outdoor enclosures, they are often no better off than others who are
held captive inside concrete buildings. The documented information about
this facility is fairly sketchy about the primates themselves. After
all, there is little time for details; the staff here is responsible for
6000 lost souls.
Many of the inmates at New Iberia are born into bondage, never knowing
the kind of life that they should have had in their true environment.
They know only concrete slabs, wire mesh, and perches. Many that are
conceived don’t survive past the first year of life. One colony within
this facility has an infant mortality rate of 33%. One out of every
three pregnancies ends in death. Maternal neglect and abuse of offspring
is also common, apparently they have learned something from us humans.
Disease is very common within this prison camp. Depending on which group
of primates is discussed, the rate of disease/injuries varies from 9% to
26% per year. The most common pathology is enteritis/colitis which
accounts for as much as 80% of all clinical conditions.
Enteritis/colitis is a debilitating condition involving severe diarrhea,
loss of weight, loss of appetite, dehydration, and eventually death. In
fact, 42% of the primates that are afflicted with this disease die. It
has become so much of an everyday occurrence at New Iberia that the post
mortem records for these animals are sprinkled with statements like:
“Chronic colitis is a common syndrome in captive macaques.” Maybe this
is because monkeys are not designed to live in concrete floored, wire
mesh walled enclosures. They have been designed by thousands of years of
evolution to roam freely over miles of treed environments. Their forced
adaptation to the laboratory has not been successful.
Primate 97P015 is an excellent example of what this enteritis/colitis
does to a monkey. This twelve year old monkey is described at death as
being “ . . . on treatment for poor condition – very thin, generalized
alopecia.” And “Very thin animal, no fat stores.” This monkey should not
have been allowed to reach a point of such severe debilitation that
there was no body fat whatsoever present. This primate had a recorded
weight of 9.35 kg (roughly 20.6 lbs) on June 14, 2007. The body weight
had decreased to 8.5 kg (18.75 lbs) by June 11, 2008. By January of 2009
his weight had plummeted to 6.3 kg (roughly 13.9 lbs), which represents
an overall decrease of over 32%, with the majority of this decline
occurring in the six months from June of 2008 to January of 2009. This
is a precipitous drop, similar to a 150 lb human losing 48 lbs.
The task of caring for this many animals is surely overwhelming. And so,
sometimes things are missed. Occasionally, the assembly line misfires.
Several New Iberia primates that developed severe illnesses were not
noticed until they were simply described as “down,” which can only mean
that these animals were so utterly sick and debilitated that they had
collapsed. Septicemias, severe life threatening infections which course
through the bloodstream, develop without any knowledge of where they
came from and are diagnosed only when the animal dies. Other macaque
monkeys are allowed to reach such an exaggerated point of debilitation
that they are listed as emaciated – skin and bones only, they resemble
victims of a concentration camp. That is surely what they are.
The ending of these plagues is that every two days 3 - 4 primates die at
New Iberia, not counting experimental deaths. These mortalities come
only from disease and trauma. If this lab buried their dead, the
cemetery would stretch on for miles, adding two new graves every day.
They would likely need an additional cemetery for the victims of
The death toll is not limited to New Iberia. In 2008, 32 macaque monkeys
were literally cooked at the Charles River laboratory in Nevada when a
heating system malfunctioned and the staff didn’t respond to alarms. The
USDA imposed a penalty of $10,000. Apparently the USDA thinks that
killing a single primate through negligence is serious enough to require
only a penalty of $312.50. In 2007 a monkey was boiled alive inside a
cage washer at the SNBL laboratory in Washington. These accidents are
only the ones that made the newspapers. Assembly line misfires.
The pictures which creep into my mind are the stuff of nightmares --
monkeys collapsing from disease. Emaciated, dehydrated, incapable even
of digesting food.
They shamble around their enclosures barely able to
walk. They simply waste away – death comes to New Iberia every day. This
is not a few animals -- over 600 die annually – lost souls that never
had a real life. Denied their natural environment, they have been thrown
into an endless stream of anguish and they drown in a tidal wave of
Then I see mothers caring for their young, sometimes. Some apparently
don’t know what to do, because they were taken away from their own
mothers too early. They have looks of utter amazement as their babies
die in their hands – victims of an artificial environment. Others bite
and tear at their infants – both mother and child are victims of the
insanity that plagues captive primates. Caring and nurturing have been
turned to abuse and neglect.
The “lucky” survivors get shipped to the NIH.
Places like this, assembly lines on the way to oblivion, can’t care for
animals. They can’t even notice imminent death. They can’t promote
health or well-being. After all, that is for living creatures. The
animals at New Iberia are only the inventory.
donation will help us to continue fighting for the freedom of these
See: University of Louisiana,
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