1200 Pages of Misery

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1200 Pages of Misery

By Michael Budkie, Founder/President of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN)
June 2012

I have just finished reading 1200 pages of misery from the University of Washington, Seattle. I am exhausted in both mind and spirit. I feel like curling up in a ball and dying. If I had known what I was getting into 25 years ago, I might have chosen a more pleasant profession, like hangman. Now there is no turning back.

primate vivisection University WashingtonThe University of Washington, Seattle, incarcerated 884 primates during 2011. Most of them were macaque monkeys, but the prisoners also included squirrel monkeys. I have friends in both of these species, though thankfully they are in sanctuaries, not in laboratories, at least not anymore. That is the one silver lining -- not all stories end in death.

The University of Washington (UW) is no stranger to breaking the law. In fact, during 2011 the lab paid a federal fine of $10,893 relevant to the deaths of several animals. One of these victims was a primate who had essentially starved to death, losing a large percentage of his/her body weight. The UW has a policy that, for primates used in experimentation, a 20% weight loss is acceptable, and this monkey exceeded that limit. The primate center at the University of Washington (WANPRC) policy regarding "Permissible Weight Loss" states: "The upper limit of acceptable weight loss in animals on experimental regimens shall be 20%." A 20% weight loss is like a 150 pound human losing 30 pounds; this is excessive, but apparently the UW doesn’t really think so. In violation of the UW’s own policy, primate J04245 (4/6/10) developed a weight loss which the record states was “over 25%.”  Similarly, Primate A06014 also had a major loss of weight (7/27/10). The record for this primate states: “The animal has had a dermatological condition intermittently since ’07. Recently, there has been a >20% body weight loss, and the dermatologic condition has been recurring.” Again, primate A02006 also had (8/18/10) major weight loss. “The animal eventually developed >25% body weight loss . . .” Also, Primate 01134 is listed (3/25/11) as having “approximately 30% weight loss.” Primate 04044 is listed (4/15/11) with a “profound weight loss.” Primate A08015 is listed on 7/6/10 with a 27% weight loss. Apparently the staff of the UW does not follow their own policy.

vivisection budkie primateBut inability to follow policy is possibly the least of the issues here. How can an animal be allowed to lose 30% of his/her body weight? This is like that 150 pound human losing 45 pounds. With this kind of weight loss, these primates would look like they had been in a concentration camp. But wait, silly me, they are in a concentration camp – paid for with our tax dollars. What else do we get for our tens of millions of dollars in federal funding?

Another place in which the staff of the UW has demonstrated incompetence would almost be comical if it weren’t so appalling. Apparently they seem to have difficulty with even the most basic ideas of animal husbandry, like keeping the animals in their enclosures. According to UW primate health care records, primate A99060 escaped on 2/10/10. Similarly, primate A06067 escaped from an enclosure on 9/17/10. In December of 2010, primate M09076 was injured by another primate who had escaped. On or about 4/24/11 primate K03226 was sedated for an examination, after having escaped. On 4/13/11 Primate T09075 escaped from her cage because a feeder box was not in place. On 5/16/11 primate T09094 was treated for an injury after primates K09057 and K09105 “got loose and roam around the room overnight.” How else has the staff of this facility demonstrated their inability to even perform basic animal care?

Again, according to UW primate health care records, many animals were negligently injured. On 2/27/11 Primate J97270 was injured because “AT reported injury to animal. Animal grabbed scissors from AT” (AT may mean Animal Technician). On approximately 4/5/11 Primate K11027, an infant who was having issues with thermo-regulation (an external heat source was used) is listed with “what looks to be burn trauma of the D5 of the left foot.”  On 1/20/11 surgery for primate A07005 was cancelled: “Turned off gas and notified veterinarian. Veterinarian cancelled surgery as the animal appears to have had access to food. . . . Animal vomited large quantity of partially digested food and extubated itself. Food observed in trach tube.”  On 4/14/10 a surgical procedure was botched when “1mm probe inadvertently penetrated brain tissue during procedure.” This monkey lived with neurological deficits for a substantial period of time with a “right sided head tilt and turns only to the right.” Primate R08004 was simply found dead with “severe edema and swelling of head and both arms with jacket and collar in place. Ingesta present in mouth and a few drops of blood noted on nose and stabilization lugs.” Primate A07121 was euthanized because “During a routine blood draw, it was discovered that the animal had a fractured right femur.” Apparently the staff of the UW had failed to even notice a broken bone. But this broken bone was not the only traumatic injury endured by a primate at the University of Washington.

The causes of injuries for other animals were not as clear but the consequences for these animals were severe. For Example, eight inches of the tail of Primate M07200 were amputated due to a traumatic injury on 4/15/10. On 9/3/10 eight inches of the tail of Primate M05221 were amputated following a traumatic injury. On 4/3/11 the tips of several fingers on the left hand of Primate A06077 were avulsed (forcibly detached) exposing bone. Primate K03150 is listed with two lacerations, a 5 cm injury and an older 10 cm injury. These are by no means the only animals with traumatic injuries, but listing them all would make this document almost endless.

So what do we have, in total, at the UW? The staff can’t keep the monkeys in the cages. They can’t keep the scissors out of the monkey’s hands. They don’t notice when bones have been broken. Traumatic injuries are not prevented. Monkeys are allowed to become so debilitated, in violation of the UW’s own policy, that they lose 30% (almost 1/3) of their body weight. Negligence, trauma, escapes, broken bones, botched procedures – does this sound like science?

vivisection budkie primateThere are many victims here. The people of this nation are victimized because they have been sold a bill of goods. White-coated pseudo-scientists will tsk tsk at the documented abuses, and then go back about their business. Even if it were actually possible to generalize from incarcerated monkeys to humans, why would we believe anything from a facility that is incapable of keeping the animals in the cages? So much for science.

The citizens of the U.S. have also been misled into thinking that the system of laboratories which use animals in experimentation is thoroughly regulated. As was mentioned above, the UW was recently fined approximately $11,000 for the death of a primate. However, we must keep in mind that experiments relevant to macaque monkeys alone bring the UW over $20,000,000 per year. But when they break the law and kill a monkey through sheer negligence, their fine is approximately $11,000. Why should they care? Realistically, how much of an effect can an $11,000 fine have on this huge facility? So much for enforcement.

Without meaningful enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, the labs literally do whatever they want to the animals. And without meaningful science, what is the federal funding for? That’s simple – lining the pockets of “researchers” and laboratories.

It seems like we have drifted into Wonderland. We have scienceless research and unenforced laws. We are left with nothing more than brutal and unjustified suffering masquerading as science -- smoke and mirrors designed to deceive.

The real victims of the charade are the monkeys. Ripped from the wild, or taken from their mothers as infants, they are reduced to tools for attracting grant money. They are the fodder of deceit, the basis for a farce. They pay with their lives for federal funding and meaningless publications. Their bodies are reduced to skeletons, their minds are brought down to insanity, their lives offered up for gold.

You and I are the witnesses to pointless agony. Overwhelmed with the visions of suffering we walk close to the edge of an abyss which can swallow us whole. For remember, the UW is not unique, they are only one of eight primate centers. In fact, they are the SMALLEST. The crimes of the UW are repeated more than a hundred fold across the U.S. Over 160,000 primates are imprisoned in U.S. labs and the dealers that supply them. 160,000 lives reduced to skeletons of what they should have been. The line of victims stretches out around the globe.

For beyond the borders of the U.S. there are monkey farms which incarcerate tens of thousands of innocent victims in nations without even the pretense of an Animal Welfare Act. I shudder to think what these primates endure.

How do we go on? How can we continue to fight as individuals against the massive institutions and corporations that perpetuate this wretchedness? How can we not be so utterly inundated by the magnitude of misery that we just throw up our hands in bewilderment and turn our backs?

We must re-examine those escapes, for while they represent negligence, they also stand for something much more important. They are the last efforts of imprisoned victims. These escapes show that the monkeys themselves, in their own way, have not given up. They are still trying to be free. They take every chance, look for every opportunity – no matter how small – for freedom. If after generations of captivity, lifetimes of imprisonment, they can still try in some small way to be free, then how can we NOT fight? If after all of the abuse, all of the pain, all of the injuries and death, they have not given up, then we cannot betray their spirit.

The question is not: “How can we go on?” The real question is “HOW DARE WE CONSIDER ANYTHING ELSE?”

All three images are from The University of Washington, Seattle, as are these. Go here to learn more about UW's abuse of animals - University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Take Action Against the University of Washington:
1. Contact Dr. Robert Gibbens to demand immediate action against the University of Washington, Seattle. The criminal acts of this lab must be severely punished!

Dr. Robert Gibbens
Dirctor, Western Region
2150 Center Avenue
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
(970) 494-7478

2. Contact the President of the University of Washington, Michael K. Young, to demand that all abuse of primates at this criminal lab be terminated immediately.

Michael K. Young
Office of the President
University of Washington
301 Gerberding Hall, Box 351230
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-5010

We welcome your comments and questions