The Abuse of Non-human Primates in Federally Regulated Laboratories - October 2011:
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The Abuse of Non-human Primates in Federally Regulated Laboratories - October 2011:
Another source of information relevant to the use of non-human primates within laboratories is contained in statements made by present/former laboratory animal care staff. Due to potential repercussions of both professional and legal nature, the identities of insiders must be protected. These courageous individuals provide an unprecedented look inside the labs, with direct observation of the daily lives of non-human primates in laboratories. As such, these statements will be identified only with the names of the laboratories in which the whistleblowers work/worked so that their identities can be protected.
The Oregon Health Sciences University, subject of the statement by the first whistleblower, held over 4600 non-human primates during the 2010 reporting year. 3432 primates were actually used in experimentation and 1187 were held for breeding or later use. This laboratory is also depicted photographically later in this report.
The New Iberia Research Center of the University of Louisiana, Lafayette (ULL), is the focus of the statement by the second whistleblower and holds approximately 7500 non-human primates, (1773 used in experimentation and 5716 held for later use or breeding). The New Iberia lab is mentioned in several other sections of this report.
Princeton University held 24 primates during 2010 and is the subject of the statement of the third whistleblower.
These present/former laboratory staff persons have uniformly stated that they are not opposed to the use of animals in experimentation. However, they have been uniformly horrified by what they observed within these laboratories. In many instances these statements discuss situations which may have involved violations of the AWA. However, the information contained in these statements also sheds light on the daily lives of non-human primates within laboratories. They all speak of barren enclosures, highly invasive procedures, and psychological disturbances. This is a disturbing look into three well-known research facilities.
The Primate Center at the Oregon Health Sciences University is made up largely of white concrete rooms, steel cages, and only a shelf of barred steel for the primates to sleep on. Some rooms had lots of macaques, two cages high and on both sides of the room, some less. They get monkey biscuits every day, their main diet, and a few veggies.
Psychological enrichment consisted of a piece of white plastic/acrylic, maybe two inches by five, with holes drilled in it to stuff raisins into, hanging on the outside of the cage. Or an apparatus similar to a bird feeder, tall and narrow, that we put granola into. Only macaques that were self-injuring or pulling out their hair had these. And, I believe, there was only one television that I ever saw for the whole section of the lab I worked in. It got moved to different rooms, of which there were many, but not very often. It took either four or five of us to hose the cages, and yes, the monkeys got wet. It took awhile to gain skill in that area and the hose had a lot of pressure. And there were a lot of feces under the cages when we cleaned. That done, many had been taught to jump into a small metal cage and to stick their arm out for blood draws and for a treat.
There were studies on aging, cocaine, and aids in a separate unit, and tests regarding genetic altering. I was cautioned too not touch the syringe even.
I remember that one rather large male macaque was made to walk down the hall, with a ring around his neck and steel bars extending to walk him at a safe distance. Then he was walked into a room and strapped into a chair and what looked like tinfoil wrapped around his penis with wires going to it and a shock delivered to cause him to ejaculate almost instantaneously. Then he was taken back to his steel cage, he seemed to almost fill it, in a white concrete room.
Other than facing each other across the room, their lives were isolated, except for a few rare couples. One macaque was in a room alone, in the standard metal cage. Some monkeys had vests with a tube which ran out of the back.
I was once allowed to watch a necropsy. No medications, the monkey was made to bleed, then cut open and organs removed as he bled to death. Was told it was necessary for accurate studies.
At some point, it became my duty to hang tags indicating surgery or euthanasia. Each had a different color, and I believe the monkeys knew the difference. I know what anthropomorphism is, and as a caregiver, I knew something about objective observation. I kept seeing the same behaviors. The monkeys with the euthanasia tags crouched further back in the cage and hardly screeched. I saw cowering in the corner, loud vocalizing, and grimacing when I hung the tags. They were colored differently for surgery or necropsy, and the tags for their termination were recognized. The macaques who were going for surgery continued to scream and fuss. They knew they were coming back.
These are things that I remember, that have stuck with me, saddened me.
There was a study that required the monkeys, (rhesus and cyno's), to wear white net like jackets. The jackets zipped in the back. This was to prevent the animal from touching the spot on the back where they received an injection. The injection was given subcutaneously. It made the area where the injection was given become inflamed and rise up a bit. The animals were sedated for this of course. The animals would start to wake up from the sedation and try to remove the jacket. Still being a bit sedated the animals would end up getting the jacket stuck on the bottom part of their mouth, sometimes cutting their gums, because they would raise their head up trying to remove the jacket from off their mouth. At this point the animals are to0 awake for us to assist them.
Year long study
In the beginning this study involved 40 young rhesus monkeys. In was in an area called "Shiv." We had to wear protective suits and respirators. The animals were sedated every day for a year. They were given 2 or 3 injections a DAY. Some injections were subcutaneous, some intravenous, either in the leg or the arm. The monkeys were given a subcutaneous injection in the back, EVERYDAY. The animals become addicted to the ketamine (anesthetic). So they were given more and more of the drug. We got pretty quick with the routine of the study from doing it everyday. So if the animal wasn't completely sedated, the injections were given quickly while techs held the animal down. Some animals didn't survive the study. Some animals were removed.
Animals are sedated and metal, sometimes plastic, collars are fitted around their neck. They are tightened with a power tool. The animals are "chair trained." The cage door is lifted a bit and two techs insert "pole catchers” into the cage. The object is for the pole catcher to hook onto the collar. The cage door is then completely lifted and the animal is then walked out of the cage, by force of course. I have seen some animals that really are trained, but the training did not come easily. The majority of the animals fight and try to pull away, once they are caught. The techs must then use force to "train" the animal to walk to the chair and sit down. Once they are seated, the collar is screwed into the chair, preventing the animals from moving their heads. The arms are put through holes in the chair so they can still move but cannot grab the techs. They cannot flip, turn around, or lie down. There were times when monkeys (rhesus and cynomolgus) were left in the chairs for hours! The animals have no access to water during this time in the chair. If they have food, it was given by a tech. But most studies require "NPO," nothing permitted orally, during the chair study. The animals are chaired and put back in their cage many times throughout the day.
I have seen animals with diarrhea for days upon days, but because of the
study are simply given half of a banana and a Pepto-Bismol, and the Pepto-Bismol
never helps. The techs from the veterinary department would sometimes leave the
Pepto-Bismol on the door of the cage. The animal would reach for it and most
times the Pepto-Bismol would fall in their feces to the tray below.
I remember one chair study that I wasn't present at, but heard about. The intravenous injection was mixed incorrectly, even though it had been sent by the client. The monkey in the chair died instantly.
The animals waking up from sedation affected me a lot. I was made to
"recover" most times since I was new. The animals would wake up and stumble
around their cage, hitting their head and mouth on the walls and on the swing. I
had one small African Green monkey stop breathing entirely. Thankfully, the vet
was right outside. He was able to save him. But what if he hadn't been right
outside? I was in a protective area wearing tyvex so I couldn't just grab the
animal and run for help. In protective areas animals cannot leave until it has
been proven that they are not infected with an airborne disease. Also, I had
about 20 something other animals that were recovering at the same time and
needed constant observation. And I had no phone. What would I have done? This
issue has been brought up multiple times. After the vet revived him, the African
Green monkey, I held him as I walked around the room, until he woke up from
sedation. I'll never forget that little guy. I was sometimes responsible to
"recover" over 30 animals at once. How is that possible??
We did these around the time when I started at ULL. The animal is weighed and a calculation is done. The maximum amount of blood possible is taken based on the animals’ weight. Can you imagine already being sedated AND losing a large quantity of blood at the same time? There were times when the calculations were done wrong.
During my career at Princeton I observed many cases of animal abuse.
On or about June of 2005, marmosets were not transferred during a routine cage change. A Princeton employee named Philip (I do not remember his last name) was responsible for change cages. This cage was taken to cage wash where another employee, Sylvanus Ashamole, put the cage into cage wash -- where temperatures reach 185 degrees. The marmosets were scalded to death. I do not know if the Princeton IACUC was informed or not. Vicki Eng was the attending veterinarian at the time. The marmosets were part of a study being conducted by Professor Gould.
About this same time the marmosets’ diet was changed by either the vet or other Princeton staff. As a result of this change, 2 or 3 marmosets eventually died of malnutrition due to lack of monitoring, which was common knowledge. This was all kept quiet. I do not believe that anyone was informed about this incident.
On or about Oct 2004 one of the marmosets was noticed to be afflicted with "wasting" disease on a Sunday. Dr. Garret Field, temporary supervisor/temp veterinarian, was notified by the animal caretaker. It was not until the next Sunday that the same caretaker was again assigned to marmosets. Immediately he noticed the animal curled up in a ball in a corner -- losing fur, unable to eat or drink because of the disease. The log book was checked to see if vet had even observed the animal. The animal had not received adequate care. The next morning, Monday, the same caretaker went to the veterinarian and informed the vet of the marmoset’s condition. The caretaker told the veterinarian to at least euthanize the poor animal to stop its suffering. The caretaker and the veterinarian went to room 1e24 where the marmoset was housed. The animal was still curled up in the corner of the cage – dead. The vet had not examined the marmoset for 7 days despite the serious and eventually fatal illness of this animal. In the first half of 2006, Professor Gould terminated all of her marmoset studies.
From 2003 to the summer of 2006 Liz Gould was the only researcher using marmosets. In January of 2010, 10 marmosets (5 pairs) were brought to Princeton for Asif Ghazanfar. The marmoset enclosures used by Ghazanfar were old and at this point only one staff person had actual experience with marmosets but this person only cared for them occasionally. This meant that much of the staff was not experienced in marmoset care. Students fed and watered Gould’s marmosets on weekends and animal care staff cared for them during the week. Eventually animal care staff provided weekend coverage as well, because students assigned for this would not always come in to feed them.
At Princeton all the monkeys had names: Bush, Calvin, Hobbes, McCartney, Lennon, Gobi, Poncho, and Franco just to name a few. At one time all monkeys were housed in "quad" cages which are about 84 inches high, 44 inches wide, and 60 inches deep. Four monkeys were in a quad. Each one had a living area 42 x 22 x 60 inches. To my knowledge, this was their only home. Once they arrived at Princeton, they never again saw daylight. In 2009 some newer cages were ordered, but not enough to accommodate all the primates at Princeton.
About 4 years ago the partition between 2 of the monkeys was left unsecured. As a result one was so severely wounded by the other as to be almost totally emasculated. This primate was euthanized shortly after this injury. I believe their names were Bauer and Sir-Mix-a-Lot.
Between 3 and 4 years ago Bush, a monkey in Professor Mike Graziano’s study was on a restricted water schedule which meant that the researcher was responsible for providing all water to the monkeys, unless animal care staff was instructed otherwise. On a 4-day Thanksgiving week end the researcher did not notify animal care that they were to give Bush water. It was Saturday before a staff member saw that Bush was not eating and saw Bush had no water. There was another incident where a monkey was totally without water for 2 days because a cage change was performed on a Friday, but the water source was not connected until Monday, which again shows Princeton’s total failure to oversee animals.
Professor Ghazanfar had a monkey named Poncho. He was the Houdini of monkeys and was constantly escaping. Eventually Ghazanfar he gave Poncho to Professor Graziano where Poncho continued his escapes. It was reported to me by other animal care staff that at one point Poncho again escaped and was subdued by being clubbed with a hockey stick by a researcher and a student. Poncho was euthanized shortly after this incident.
Four years ago Hugo, a member of care staff, went into room oe14 where Poncho was housed. Poncho was loose and attacked Hugo. If he hadn’t been wearing a full shield he would have lost his eyes.
Monkeys were usually chaired and transported to the MRI machine at night to avoid anyone seeing them chaired.
The most brazen professor is Ghazanfar. He constantly refuses to cooperate with animal care staff, and also refuses to do things in compliance with regulations, or to cooperate with required inspections.
Regarding all of all the above incidents, I am not aware of any IACUC intervention. I am also not aware of Princeton reporting these incidents to any regulatory agencies.
When an inspection was due we were ordered to go and check log books, etc.
and fill in or correct anything as needed, after the fact. AND because a member
of our staff had an outside connection it was always known EXACTLY what day and
time the FDA and/or USDA would be at Princeton for inspections.