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Articles and Reports

Letter to President Mary Sue Coleman of the University of Michigan


1081-B St. Rt. 28 PMB 280
Milford, Ohio 45150
513-575-5517
www.saenonline.org 

7/7/08

Mary Sue Coleman, President 
University of Michigan
Office of the President
503 Thompson Street
2074 Fleming Administration Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340

President Coleman,

I am writing to you today because I am very concerned about the primates used in the laboratories of two University of Michigan (UM) Researchers, James Woods and Gail Winger. I have obtained UM internal records utilizing the state public records act and the information contained in these documents is extremely disturbing.

Scallywag, one of the U of M primates, is listed as losing weight from the constant activity associated with psychologically abnormal behavior. Another Primate named Clash is listed as having a 12% weight loss of unknown origin. Another rhesus monkey is listed as declining from 6.8 kg to 5.8 kg (15 pounds to 12 pounds) a 15% weight loss in just 3 months. This animal also has constant muscle contractions, and is hypothermic. It almost sounds as though she is experiencing drug withdrawal. Yet another primate named Data had a weight loss of 10.5% in a short period.

Harpo is listed with 4 incidents of self-mutilation in 5 days during 2006, this after a long history of self-destructive behavior. Eminem wears long sleeved jacket due to history of self-mutilation. Scallywag exhibits abnormal behavior when people are in the room. The list goes on and on.

Based on their behavior, these animals are clearly suffering from serious psychological pathologies. This is not surprising since according to the publications of UM researchers these primates are housed in cages which are 83.3-cm long by 76.2-cm wide by 91.4-cm deep (J Exp Anal Behav. 2006 September; 86(2): 181195). While this may meet minimal requirements, clearly it does not meet their psychological needs. In their natural habitat rhesus monkeys have much larger environments which allow for very complex behavior which have become part of their genetic makeup as they have evolved to survive. These behaviors are not possible in small stainless steel cages. The effects of the addictive drugs and experimental apparatus to which they are subjected in the experiments of Winger and Woods serve only to make the psychological frustration of these primates worse. Additionally, according to another publication (Drug Alcohol Depend. 2005 February 14; 77(2): 161168.) many of these primates are individually housed. This situation serves only to increase the stress which these animals experience, and increases the likelihood that they will become insane because in their natural habitat these animals are members of large social groups.

In order that I may have the opportunity to ascertain the current conditions of these primates I officially request the opportunity to tour the labs of Gail Winger and James Woods and to see rhesus monkeys used in their experiments and the housing for these animals. I also believe that it would be extremely beneficial if representatives of the news media from the Detroit/Ann Arbor area have the opportunity to participate in this tour so that the public may be allowed to see these experiments, since they are publicly funded.

Additionally, I believe that it is necessary to obtain further information regarding the current conditions of these animals. This request is made pursuant to the freedom of information act of the state of Michigan, Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 15.231 et. seq.

This letter is to direct you, your officer(s) and/or agents to provide me with copies of any and all documents and/or records as described below:

All medical records for all primates used/held for use within the laboratories or for the experimentation of James Woods and/or Gail Winger for the period 8/1/07 present. Also requested are copies of all correspondence between the University of Michigan and the USDA for the last two years. Also requested are copies of all correspondence between the University of Michigan and the Alpha Genesis Corporation (aka labs of Virginia) for the last two years as well as all records for primates which have come from this facility for the last year.

If it is determined pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 15.234(3) that this request would result in "unreasonably high costs to the public body", the requester is prepared to pay for all actual search and reproduction fees, pursuant to Mich. Comp Laws Ann. 15.234 up to an initial amount of two hundred dollars ($200.00). If the fees will exceed this amount provide me with a detailed estimation of the fee in advance before performing said work.

The requester asserts that all records requested above are public records as defined by Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 15.232 (c). Should you come to an opposite decision, please segregate all claimed exempt portions, provide access to the remaining information and provide me with specific reference to the exemptions of the law(s) or any other provision that prohibits said disclosure that you believe to apply, pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 15.235(4), 15.244.

The requester, further, requests a response to this request within 5 business of the receipt of this request pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 15.235(2).

It is clear from the information contained in the documents which the University of Michigan has previously provided that these primates are suffering from very serious psychological abnormalities which are caused by the combination of psychoactive drugs, social isolation and unnatural confinement. The combination of these three issues has a very real potential to render the experimentation in which these animals are used scientifically meaningless. While it is always difficult to extrapolate meaning from non-human animals in artificial laboratory environments to the human setting, this process is clearly made much more difficult, if not impossible, when the primates have been driven insane by the experimentation in which they are used and the environment in which they are housed.

Additionally, these animals were obtained from other laboratories which also performed experimentation of a psychological nature. These laboratories included Virginia Commonwealth University, Yerkes Primate Research Center, and the National Institutes of Health. It is highly likely that the experimentation in which these animals were previously used at other laboratories had the potential to cause major behavioral abnormalities. In other words, these primates may have been insane before they arrived at the University of Michigan.

All of these circumstances taken together have the potential to invalidate these experiments, thereby wasting millions of dollars in federal grants. Therefore, I believe that the University of Michigan should allow the public to see what is happening within the laboratories of Gail Winger and James Woods.

I will look forward to a response to this letter within five (5) business days.

Sincerely,


Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T.,
Executive Director, SAEN

See also : University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

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