The health and well-being of the approximately 4500 primates who are confined at the University of California, Davis has been a serious concern to animal advocates for years. We have recently completed an assessment of the overall condition of animals at UC Davis by examining the post mortem records for primates who died at this facility from August of 2003 through February of 2006. This examination involved records for a total of 590 primates, both infants and adults.
370 adult primates died at UC Davis in this period. Fully 34% (125)
of these primates were somewhere between thin and severely emaciated.
Additionally, 24% (87) were moderately to severely dehydrated. 123 of
these primates had colitis; 53 had enteritis; and 62 had gastritis. If
these were individual findings they could account for 64% of the deaths.
Almost 9% of the dead adult primates had pneumonia. However, it was not
uncommon for a specific primate to have multiple pathological
conditions. It was very common to see a primate record listing an animal
who was markedly dehydrated, emaciated and had colitis. The primates who
have reached this advanced state of debilitation have suffered
tremendously and should have received veterinary care. However, none of
the records we examined even discussed veterinary care.
Additionally, eighteen of the adult deaths were suffering from severe trauma. The records often said that these deaths were the result of internecine fighting in the corrals. There were also several instances of self-inflicted trauma. Abuse was not limited to adults. Almost 10% of the dead infant primates had suffered from trauma caused by physical abuse. 36% (80) of the infant primate bodies were autolyzed on some level. In other words, their deaths had gone unnoticed sufficient to allow their bodies to begin to rot.
18% of the infants who were sufficiently whole to be meaningfully
examined were listed as being somewhere between thin and emaciated. 17%
of these infants were dehydrated. Again, as in the adults, the infants
were very often both severely emaciated and dehydrated. However, almost
9% of the infants were suffering from listeriosis. According to the
website of the CDC, in humans this condition affects primarily those
whose immune systems are compromised.
Taken together these findings point in only one direction. High levels of gastrointestinal distress can be indicative of stress. Substantial levels of traumatic injuries from fighting, as well as incidences of self-injurious behavior also point to stress. Abuse of infant animals by parents is also indicative of highly stressed animals. Lastly, the presence of a substantial level of listeriosis in infants is indicative of a population of animals with depressed immune systems, which is also indicative of stress.
Only one conclusion is possible from this information. The primates
inside the UC Davis Primate Research Center are severely stressed and
suffer from many stress-related conditions. What is the cause of this
stress? Primates are naturally social animals who traverse large areas
of terrain in their native habitat. Indoor laboratory environments are
by their very nature stressful to primates. Their space is severely
limited, such that a 33 – 55 pound primate lives in a space of 8 square
feet, 2’ by 4’. This is like a 165 pound human spending their entire
life in a space that is 3’ by 8’, or 24 square feet. These cages are
made of stainless steel, containing at most a perch and a kong toy. Some
primates have social interaction with other primates, many do not.
It is clear from both documentary evidence and from eye-witness accounts that life for primates within UC Davis is very grim, being comprised of abusive experiments and mind-destroying monotony. If things are to change, then the management at UC Davis needs to stop stonewalling admit that major problems exist. The California National Primate Research Center brings approximately $94,000,000 per year to UC Davis as of 2005. In other words our government is spending almost $100,000,000 to experiment on animals who are so stressed and suffer from so many pathological conditions that any conclusions resulting from this experimentation would be made useless by the severely debilitated condition of the animals. These primates would not even accurately represent members of their own species, let alone providing any useful knowledge for human medicine.
This $100,000,000 in federal funding could be much better spent on clinical and epidemiological research which is much more likely to have a meaningful impact on human health.
Additionally, it is truly criminal to see almost $100 million in federal tax dollars per year being wasted on meaningless experiments on highly stressed primates when many Americans cannot afford even the most basic forms of health insurance. As a nation we need to decide where our priorities lie. Should we be paying those who experiment on primates six-figure salaries every year, or should we be putting more funding into fully utilizing the treatment methodologies that we already have by providing health care to those who cannot afford it.
Therefore, we are publicly issuing a request for a meeting with the Chancellor of the University of California, Larry N. Vanderhoef in hopes of negotiating substantial changes for this facility. The points that we want to discuss are:
1. Unannounced tours of UC Davis laboratories with news media present to inform the tax-paying public about the reality of Vanderbilt animal experiments. All protocols for sterility will be followed.
2. A schedule for the gradual reduction of the number of animals in UC Davis laboratories, redirecting funding into clinical and epidemiological research.
3. Immediate free access to all records relevant to animal research at UC Davis including: animal health care records, research protocols, and internal UC Davis inspection reports.
4. Immediate elimination of the use of primate restraint chairs,
paralytic drugs, and water deprivation as a part of all UC Davis
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