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Articles and Reports

Letter to President Robert H. Bruininks of the University of Minnesota


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

6/12/08

President Robert H. Bruininks
202 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street S.E.
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

President Bruininks,

I am contacting you today in regard to experimental procedures used by several researchers at the University of Minnesota. These researchers are Claudia Hendrix, Timothy Ebner and Marilyn Carroll. These research projects use macaque monkeys in procedures that are highly questionable from a scientific point of view, and are also highly stressful and painful for the primates.

For your information, the projects of Ebner and Hendrix involve literally bolting restraining bars and recording cylinders to their skulls, and confining them to restraint chairs while Carroll’s project utilizes restraint chairs and addictive drugs (J Neurophysiol 91: 2826-2837, 2004 ; J Neurophysiol 95: 144-158, 2006 ; J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2002 Jun;301(3):993-1002 Vol. 301, Issue 3, 993-1002, June 2002) and may also involve depriving primates of water for extended periods of time,. According to statements from experts in veterinary medicine these procedures definitely cause pain and distress, and some experts even consider them to be unethical (see attachments).

I am concerned that these experiments may lead to violations of the Animal Welfare Act infractions within University of Minnesota labs. As you know, according to the Animal Welfare Act:

Sec. 2.36 Annual report.

(7) State the common names and the numbers of animals upon which teaching, experiments, research, surgery, or tests were conducted involving accompanying pain or distress to the animals and for which the use of appropriate anesthetic, analgesic, or tranquilizing drugs would have adversely affected the procedures, results, or interpretation of the teaching, research, experiments, surgery, or tests. An explanation of the procedures producing pain or distress in these animals and the reasons such drugs were not used shall be attached to the annual report;

It is clear that the experiments of Hendrix, Ebner and Carroll would fall into the category of unrelieved pain and distress for the animals involved. Failure to accurately report this experiment to the USDA is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act. I am also very concerned about these primates having adequate access to water.

In light of these issues, I officially request that your office suspend these projects while instituting an investigation to ascertain whether they are following all legal requirements. I also officially request the opportunity to tour the laboratories in question, and examine the veterinary records for the macaque monkeys used in these experiments.

I would also like to request a meeting with University of Minnesota officials to discuss the permanent elimination of such research practices at University of Minnesota. To prevent any confusion about these issues, the procedures that should be eliminated from all University of Minnesota laboratories are:

4. The use of food and/or water deprivation in non-human primates for any reason but pre-surgical fasting. Depriving non-human primates of sustenance for extended periods as is currently practiced by University of Minnesota laboratories is inhumane, unethical, and has been declared causative of pain and distress by scientific experts.

5. The surgical attachment of devices such as restraining bars and recording cylinders to the skulls of non-human primates. These devices have also been declared by experts to cause pain and or distress in primates.

6. The use of primate restraint chairs in projects involving non-human primates. These devices severely restrict the movement of primates and have been declared by experts to cause substantial distress.

The University of Minnesota uses a significant number of primates in experiments every year. I believe it is very likely that some of these animals are killed unnecessarily, when they could be retired to a primate sanctuary to live out their lives in a place that is designed to meet their needs. Therefore, I respectfully request that the University of Minnesota institute a fully funded retirement program for all primates that are not currently utilized in ongoing research projects.
I will look forward to your response within five business days.


With Respect For All Life,

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

See also : University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

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