Primate Experimentation in the US:
The Facts We Weren’t Supposed to Know

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Primate Experimentation in the US: The Facts We Weren’t Supposed to Know
By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T.
513-575-5517 saen@saenonline.org  

How Are Primates Cared For Within Laboratories?

Are laboratories following laws regarding proper care of primates? This is a difficult question to answer. Many of the regulations regarding the care of animals are common to all species of animals. In other words, for the most part the regulations are the same whether we are speaking of primates or rabbits. The regulations which were derived from the Animal Welfare Act cover veterinary care, feeding, pain relief in surgery, etc. But very often the same regulation is used for all species. Therefore it is difficult to ascertain which violations pertain to primates.

USDA/APHIS information regarding violations of the AWA is available on the USDA website at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/violationssumwopara.pdf  and http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/FY2002_3_81_violation_sum.PDF

Examination of the violations listed at this location shows that approximately 1 out of every 4 labs has a violation regarding animal care, and approximately 1 out of every 2 labs has a violation regarding the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee, the internal body that is responsible for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act within each facility and for the approval of experimental protocols. As will be shown when specific facilities are examined, many of these violations were relevant to primates.

It is also significant to note that there were 227 separate violations of the requirements for providing environmental enhancement for primates. Many of these violations took place in research facilities. The trend towards non-compliance with this new area of enforcement will be examined when specific facilities are discussed. The psychological well being of primates within laboratories is a major concern. Isolation has been shown to have very deleterious effects on the psychological well being of primates. Therefore, during 2000 – 2001 the USDA undertook a Housing Survey to investigate the conditions within which primates are housed. Research facilities had a much worse record for providing socialization for primates than did either exhibitors or animal dealers. Dealers housed 89% of their animals in pair/group housing; exhibitors gave 91% of the primates in their care socialized housing. Research facilities gave only 65% socialized housing. Or, 35% of the primates in research facilities experienced some level of social isolation. Problems with environmental enhancement are common in the specific facilities which will be examined next.

While this discussion of national trends in AWA violations has been useful, an examination of specific facilities will provide examples of violations at well-known laboratories.

Go on to:  Northwestern University
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