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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Articles and Reports

The Reality of Primate Experimentation in the United States:
Lies, Greed, and Insanity

By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T.

The Psychological State of Non-human Primates in U.S. Laboratories

Earlier in this report it was stated that legal requirements exist so that the environment of primates in laboratories is enhanced to promote their psychological well-being. This is a very serious issue and deserves significant discussion.

The natural environment of free-ranging primates is complicated and elicits many intricate behaviors. The environment includes trees, predators, changing weather conditions, etc. All of these things give non-human primates a wide variety of experiences on a daily basis. It is not uncommon for some species of primates to range over 1 square mile of territory on a daily basis. However, the laboratory cage, is very different, extremely sterile, designed primarily for ease of cleaning.

The enclosures in which many primates are housed are listed by medical journals as being 83.3-cm long by 76.2-cm wide by 91.4-cm deep which translates into 33 inches long by 30 inches wide by 36 inches deep. To put yourself in their place you must imagine that your life consists of confinement in a small enclosure which only allows you to take at most one or two short steps in any direction and with just enough height to stand upright. You never have the opportunity to see the sun or breathe fresh air. This is in very stark contrast to what takes place in their natural environment. It is no surprise that this situation alone can have serious psychological consequences. Hair pulling, stereotypical behavior and self-mutilation are not uncommon.

USDA inspection reports provide some glimpses of what happens to the psychological state of primates. In October of 2006 primates at Yale are described as circling in their cages. In April of 2007, primates at the University of South Florida are described with hair loss and as circling in cages. In August of 2006 a primate at the University of Pittsburgh shows signs of distress. In August of 2006 several primates at the State University of New York, Brooklyn, are showing signs of distress. In March of 2007 primates at the Charles River laboratories are showing stereotypical behaviors. In February of 2006 six monkeys at the Boehringer Ingelheim facility in Connecticut are showing signs of distress. In March of 2007 primates at this same facility have significant hair loss. Internal records from several other facilities give us a more detailed look.

Internal documents from the Medical College of Virginia reveal that primates experience such severe stress that they often become self-abusive. Rhesus monkey M1390 endured a lifetime of suffering at MCV:

“Arrived years ago and from the beginning had difficulty adjusting to the lab. Throughout the years several attempts were made to address his behavior problems using enrichment and various experimental protocols. He would show improvement for a period but would return to bouts of stereotypic behavior including aggression and self injurious behavior. Due to recent indications that his behavior had worsened, the PI opted to remove the animal from study and request euthanasia.”

Many of the primates within this facility are so severely disturbed that they tear out their own hair. Fur is plucked from arms, legs, tails, and heads. One monkey was so disturbed that he/she removed all of the hair from his/her head, resulting in baldness.

Additionally, these animals suffer with surgically implanted catheters, which they often rip out. Infections are not uncommon. Jackets are placed on these monkeys in a vain effort to protect the catheters. This serves only to cause more stress as the monkeys chew and tear at the jackets in frustration. Some of these rhesus monkeys become so agitated that they shake and bang on the cages and tear at the restrictive jackets. Others, seeming to give up, simply lie on the floor of the cage and clutch their tails.

Internal records from the University of Michigan provide another look inside the laboratory. Almost every health record for the primates at UM which were used in addiction experiments lists a time when the monkeys are ripping out their hair, or worse. Several actually mention multiple incidents of severe self-mutilation. Other primates are listed as requiring the amputation of their tails due to self-inflicted lacerations.

One of the UM primates named Scallywag is listed as losing weight from the constant activity associated with psychologically abnormal behavior. Another primate named Clash had a 12% weight loss of unknown origin. Yet, another rhesus monkey is described as declining from 6.8 kg to 5.8 kg (15 pounds to 12 ¾ pounds) a 15% weight loss in just 3 months. This animal also has constant muscle contractions and is hypothermic which could be related to drug withdrawal. Yet, another primate named Data had a weight loss of 10.5% in a short period.

Harpo’s records discuss four incidents of self-mutilation in five days during 2006; this comes after a long history of self-destructive behavior. Eminem wears a “long sleeved jacket due to history of self-mutilation.” Scallywag behaves abnormally around people. The list goes on and on and on.

Similarly, documents from the University of Minnesota serve to complete the picture of mental abnormality that is the reality of the incarceration of primates in labs. Documents from this facility reveal very clearly what these monkeys endure. On 8/9/05, primate 05GP20 is listed as “Temp was up due to primate jumping back and forth wildly.” On 8/23/05, primate #312E shows evidence of self-mutilation: “did bite knee after observation.” Primate #45C on 3/21/06 is listed as “extremely thin, body condition is poor, severe alopecia . . . bruising on top of left ankle.” Monkey #45D on 11/15/05 is described: “. . . ripping hair from the armpit area and chewing on the fur, each time he would grab a tuft of fur he would vocalize.” Primate #25b was overdosed on 9/14/04 and was observed 11/15/05 “ . . . ripping hair from the armpit area and chewing on the fur, each time he would grab a tuft of hair he would vocalize.” Two separate primates are described this way. How many more are behaving like this without being noticed?

These are only glimpses inside a few laboratories, but the picture painted by them is not pretty. It is clear that the laboratory environment has a lasting impact on the psychological nature of on-human primates.

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