University of Wisconsin Primate Health Care
During the 2002 - 2003 period the WNPRC housed roughly
1500 primates. Most of these primates are macaca mulatta or rhesus
monkeys. The next largest group of primates is callithrix jacchus or
marmosets. These primates are maintained to be used as research
subjects, or in the breeding of primates for research. The center
supports research in aging, diet, reproduction, psychology, and other
The colony statistics table from the NIH progress
report filed by WNPRC reveals a number of interesting statistics. The
year began with 1513 primates in residence at the center. 84 marmosets
were born during the year, no macaques were born. For the purposes of
the progress report live births are defined as “inflated lungs.” The
progress report does not list any infant or juvenile macaques or
marmosets dying at the WNPRC. 159 primates were added to the colony from
outside sources. 29 primates died during experimentation. 118 primates
died of non-experimental causes. The total number of primate deaths
listed in the report (experimental and non-experimental) is 147. 95 were
sold or transferred outside the center.
The following table lists the numbers of primates for
whom WNPRC provided necropsy reports (i.e. post-mortem reports) whose
dates correspond to the time period for the progress report that WNPRC
filed with the NIH. These primates all apparently died of natural
Note: 3 additional necropsy reports were provided from
macaque monkeys that were euthanized during experimentation.
Total deaths (non-stillbirths) 157
Closer examination of these records raises many
questions. For example: the 8 macaques in the 1 day – 1 month old
category had ages of: 1 day (3x), 2 day, 1 week, 2 ˝ weeks, and 1 month
(2x). If, as the progress report says, no macaques were born during this
period, where did these young animals come from? It is not likely that 1
day old primates were shipped in from a supplier. It is even more
surprising that the report lists no infant/juvenile macaques as dying.
What about these 8 macaques? The progress report also lists no deaths
among infant/juvenile marmosets. However WNPRC provided necropsy reports
for 40 marmosets in the 1 day – 1 month old category. Apparently the
WNPRC conveniently forgot about these 48 short lives when filing their
NIH progress report. The progress report lists 147 deaths at the primate
center, but WNPRC provided 157 necropsy reports that occurred during
Many other pieces of information can be derived from
the necropsy reports at the WNPRC. This information can reveal patterns
in the diseases which functioned as causes of death, thereby providing
an indication of the conditions at the WNPRC.
1. 38 (54.3%) died with lymphoplasmacytic gastritis –
this disease can be caused by stress.
2. 27 (21%) died with enteritis and/or colitis – also
potentially caused by stress.
3. 2 had reached a state of emaciation
4. 4 had begun to self-mutilate
5. Other disease conditions included: pneumonia,
hepatitis, endometriosis, peritonitis, etc.
1. 23 (64%) had lymphocytic enteritis – this disease
can be caused by stress
2. 8 (22%) had become cachetic (emaciated) 6 (16.7%)
more were listed as thin -- or -- 14 (38.9%) were substantially
3. 1 marmoset had begun to self-mutilate
4. Other diseases included lymphosarcoma, hepatitis,
meningitis, encephalitis, etc.
5. The infant mortality rate for the marmoset colony
is 58.1% = (live births – infant necropsies) / (live births +
6. 8 of the infant animals that were given post-mortem
examinations had been cannibalized by other marmosets
What do these individual pieces of information lead
to? Lymphoplasmacytic gastritis in macaques and lymphocytic enteritis in
marmosets can be caused by stress. High infant mortality rates can be
caused by stress. Cannibalism can also be influenced by stress. A
significant number of primates at WNPRC engaged in self-mutilation. This
is likely a result of social isolation. It is very likely that only the
most susceptible primates engaged in self-mutilation; others have
probably developed behavioral pathologies of a different nature.
Additionally, we only have knowledge of the self-mutilating primates
that died. We have no way of knowing how many living macaques and
marmosets are physically injuring themselves at this very moment.
We must also conclude that the animals within this
colony suffer from chronic stress. All the signs are there:
gastro-intestinal tract disease.
Additionally, three marmosets were recently killed at
the WNPRC when they were not removed from their cage before the cage was