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

Articles and Reports

The Primate Experimentation Scandal, 2003
An Investigative Report
By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T.,
Executive Director, SAEN

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.

Examining the violations listed at this location allow for approximately 1 out of every 4 labs to have a violation regarding animal care, and approximately 1 out of every 2 labs has a violation regarding the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee, this is 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.

Northwestern University

Inspection reports from USDA visits to Northwestern University dated 6/11/02 indicate violations within areas including veterinary care, IACUC, and personnel qualifications. Within these documents the deaths of several primates are discussed. Primate 8D4 died within ˝ hour of the completion of a marathon 9-hour surgical procedure. Other investigators at Northwestern had completed similar procedures in half the time. Another primate, 9K2, is said to have died as a result of water deprivation. Apparently this primate was involved in a procedure wherein the animal’s water intake was severely limited. At the same time the automatic watering system for a set of 4 monkeys, one of which was primate 9K2, was malfunctioning. This caused 9K2 to be water deprived even at times when water was supposed to be available, leading to death. The other three primates in this quad are also said to have been "very thirsty" when they finally received water.

University of Pittsburgh

On 1/22/03 the University of Pittsburgh Plumborough Primate facility was cited for the use of expired drugs, inadequate care of primates recovering from anesthesia, inadequate storage of primate food, and unnecessary isolation of primates. On 3/4/03 this same facility was again cited for the use of expired drugs. Inadequate (too small) primary enclosures for primates was another violation on this date.

University of Pennsylvania

USDA inspection reports from 6/20/02 indicate violations in the area of environmental enhancement for primates. Several examples are illustrative: "Two single housed rhesus in IHGT are exhibiting stereotypic behaviors but are receiving no additional special enrichment. These are rhesus 94B106 who is stress pacing and AC3H who is very aggressive and exhibiting saluting behaviors."

Johns Hopkins University

USDA reports from inspections on 6/24/02 reveal violations in many areas. The IACUC is cited for inadequate justification of the use of baboons and squirrel monkeys in drug studies. Environmental Enhancement is also an issue at this facility because "Over half of the nonhuman primates are singly housed. . . . A baboon was housed alone with no other nonhuman primate contact and minimum enrichment at Asthma and Allergy. The baboon was acting distressed, pacing in circles."

University of Florida

On August 26, 2002 the university is cited for inadequate veterinary care due to an incident involving several primates. There are two squirrel monkeys who had been used in experiments involving food deprivation. However, they still seem to have been underweight even after the food restrictions were removed.

Emory University

USDA inspection reports dated 3/18/03 discuss violations in the areas of IACUCs for improper internal inspections, and Housing facilities for non-human primates. A report from 8/23/02 discusses the death of Rhesus monkey #3566 on 4/16/02. Apparently this primate had been steadily declining since 6/01 – losing 32% of his/her body weight in this 14-month period. This primate had received multiple MPTP treatments over a 6-month period. The primate received treatment for clinical problems on 3/16 & 3/31. Health concerns were again raised on 4/14. However, the researchers did not observe the primate on this day, and were unavailable for contact from the veterinary staff. Husbandry staff didn’t report the animal’s anorexic condition until 4/15 – when the animal was found with no evident heartbeat or respiration, and hypothermia. The primate was revived, but was found dead the next morning.

Another incident at Emory described in the USDA report involves an " . . . anorexic, barely mobile, syringe-fed monkey that had been living in a sleep study cubicle for ‘several days’ following multiple, systemic MPTP injections."

The USDA inspector concludes the report with this comment: "Recent incidents described herein demonstrate (a) lack (of) timely communications between investigators/husbandry staff and the attending veterinarian, one of which resulted in an animal death."

Other inspection reports (from 3/30/00) list deficiencies in space requirements, environmental enrichment, and veterinary care. In relation to the Environmental enrichment violations the inspector makes an interesting statement: " . . . although a significant percentage of the macaques at the Yerkes Field Station are partially or entirely bald, this condition has not been noted as not normal, accessed for the extent of the condition, nor possible reasons or solutions investigated. The baldness appears to be due to overgrooming, and may indicate a need for the opportunity to express other normal behaviors (climbing, exploring) more frequently."

The care of primates at Emory University is particularly important because Emory is the home of the Yerkes Primate Research Center, which handles over 3000 primates per year.

Duke University

USDA documents regarding inspections at Duke University performed on 9/17/02 indicate problems with the Environmental Enrichment program for primates. One specific owl monkey is noted as exhibiting symptoms of psychological distress. These symptoms include: self-clasping, poor haircoat, and depression. These violations follow a previous inspection (8/21/01) which also listed violations in the area of environmental enrichment.

This is significant because Duke University routinely handles over 400 primates per year.

Yale University

USDA documentation for routine inspections of Yale University dated 9/3/02 cites inadequate veterinary care for the use of outdated drugs (oxytetracycline and penicillin). Three nonhuman primates (94-37, 00-38 and 00-39) are exhibiting signs of distress as a result of insufficient environmental enhancement. Violations also exist in the areas of IACUCs in the area of records regarding experiments with kittens and personnel qualifications relating to inadequate dosing of post-operative analgesics. However, the most significant violation on this date is the fact that several primates were without water at the time of inspection. The inspection of 9/6/01 also showed a primate, which indicated signs of psychological distress.

Harvard University

Government documents for 1/22/01 reveal violations in the areas of IACUCs, veterinary care, housing, and environmental enrichment. Several primates were recovering from anesthesia without posting of their condition or observation. Several primates are noted with substantial hair loss (a potential sign of stress), and another primate is showing evidence of a bloody nose. Primate #210-99 – "exhibits hair loss, crouching type behavior, and pattern type movements around cage. No evidence in records that any behavioral abnormalities were noted." Information from other sources (i.e. a report filed by Harvard with the NIH) indicates that there are hundreds (457 in fiscal 2000) of primates at the New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC --affiliated with Harvard) that exhibit sufficiently aberrant behavior as to be used in studies of self-injurious behavior. The status of primates at Harvard/NEPRC is significant because according to government documents this facility handles well over 2000 primates per year.

McLean Hospital

USDA documents for inspections performed at McLean Hospital on 2/2/00 list many problems in the area of Veterinary Care and IACUCs relative to primates. Drugs that had expired as much as 2 years and 10 months before the inspection were still in use. Primates (#261-85 and #258-90) have "excessive generalized hair loss" and the records for these primates do not indicate that this has even been noticed. Primate #91-94 is "limping and holding left leg up." Again, this health issue is not even mentioned in the records for this primate. There are violations regarding the IACUC which refer to a project which deprives primates of food.

By December 5, 2000 other expired drugs have piled up at McLean Hospital, and the condition of primates #261-85 and #258-90 have still not been noticed. And primate 91-94 now is " . . . still holding leg up and observations of foot at time of this inspection showed curled up appearance (disuse atrophy?)." Another primate, #347 also has unidentified health care issues.

University of California, San Francisco

Inspection reports for the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) beginning in September of 2000 reveal a continuing pattern of animal abuse and neglect. On September 27 & 28 USDA/APHIS officials performed an inspection of UCSF labs as a result of a complaint which was filed against the facility. Their inspections found that the complaint was "basically valid." The complaint centered around experimentation on primates which denied them sufficient food and water. Violations in areas of IACUC, Personnel Qualifications, Veterinary care ("Monkey #17562was identified as not being a good candidate for a water restriction study, due to a chronic diarrhea problem, according to veterinary statements in the animal’s medical record. The records did not indicate a resolution of the chronic diarrhea [a water loss problem], yet this animal remained assigned to the protocol and was placed on a long-term water restriction schedule in October 1999. The animal was also noted as thin and not gaining weight as early as July 13, 1999, yet no medical attention was provided for this problem until August, 2000."), Handling, and Feeding. The inspector concludes the report with a very damning statement: "In my professional judgment, the nutritional requirements of these animals were not met for either food or water."

On 5/17 – 25/01 UCSF is cited for IACUC violations for performing survival surgery on an animal that was sick, and for inappropriately monitoring a research protocol that involved confining primates to restraint chairs for a period of up to 8 hours, and improper use of post-operative analgesics. UCSF is also cited for inadequate veterinary care of sheep at this time.

On 7/30/01 UCSF is again inspected as a result of a complaint. The complaint was apparently filed because a primate had been ill and vomiting for approximately 5 weeks. This primate was also involved in a training protocol that involved water restriction.

On 1/28/02 the UCSF IACUC is again cited for ineffective monitoring of experimental procedures. Specifically, the primate water restriction project is mentioned again. Insufficient means of monitoring the weight loss of primates, and the endpoint necessary for the advent of veterinary involvement are deemed to be insufficient. The lab is also cited for inappropriate feed storage, primary enclosures, sanitation, and inappropriate waste disposal.

On 8/5/02 UCSF is again cited for IACUC violations for investigators not following experimental protocols, insufficient administration of analgesics, insufficient consideration given to potentially painful & stressful procedures (in primates), and inadequate veterinary care. The veterinary care incident involved a marmoset that had been allowed to loose 36% of his/her body weight without receiving any treatment. Violations in sanitation and cleaning are again mentioned.

On 2/4/03 UCSF is again cited for IACUC violations regarding post-surgical monitoring of primates and inadequate use of analgesics. These violations involve projects where holes were bored into the skulls of primates. The facility is also cited for falsification of animal records, and inadequate sanitation.

University of Washington, Seattle

USDA inspection reports for the University of Washington, Seattle (UW) reveal multiple violations for 4/1/03. Expired food was being given to cats and guinea pigs. Water was being denied to rabbits in the Comparative Medicine Building. The watering system had been disconnected for a period of 48 hours without being noticed by the animal care staff.

Internal documents obtained from the UW indicate significant problems in areas of primate care. One primate (K93464) died (9/01) as a result of ingesting a set of latex gloves. Another primate (T93497) died (1/01) after being anesthetized for a blood draw, potentially as a result of anesthetic overdose. Another primate (#93169) died (7/00) of anesthetic overdose. Two primates (A00131 & 98026) in the care of investigator CC Tsai died with "total absence of body fat stores" and "total absence of subcutaneous fat." Dehydration is also discussed in reference to primate #98026. Primate F93276 died 6/01 is discussed as having "Malnutrition, chronic, severe" and "Dehydration, severe."

University of Wisconsin Primate Health Care

In order that the health of primates within large colonies could be examined, necropsy reports (post mortem records) for primates within the Wisconsin Primate Research Center (for the year 2000) were examined. 31 of the primates were euthanized for experimental purposes. 129 adult primates died of pathological conditions. 61 (47%) of these animals were suffering from gastro-intestinal tract conditions. 15 (11.6%) were suffering from hepatitis; 15 (11.6%) were suffering from pneumonia. 40 of these primates were considered thin, and another 7 were cachetic or emaciated. Therefore, 47 (36%) were in substantially inadequate nutritional condition. Other pathological conditions included trauma, bone fractures, meningitis, encephalitis, and severe endometriosis. The fact that 47% of the primates at the Wisconsin Primate Center were suffering from gastro-intestinal tract diseases at their death is indicative of a colony of highly stressed animals.

During 2000 182 primates were born at the Wisconsin Primate Research Center. 36 of these primates died of varying conditions. There were also 11 stillbirths. Therefore, out of 193 pregnancies, this provides an infant mortality rate of slightly over 24%, or one out of four primate pregnancies leads to death. An infant mortality rate of this magnitude could be the result of severely stressed primates.

The prevalence of significant disease and the fact that animals are allowed to become emaciated, to suffer severe trauma, and to sustain severe pathological conditions leads to the conclusion that primates within this facility suffer substantially from disease conditions, in addition to, or as a result of the experiments to which they are subjected.

A substantial number of the primates who died at the UW of pathological conditions appear to have suffered substantially. The severe pathological conditions which caused the deaths of 29 of these primates indicate that these animals would have met the conditions for being listed in Column E of the University of Wisconsin’s Annual Report to the USDA. This column lists animals who experienced unrelieved pain or distress. Lymphocytic enteritis, vegetative endocarditis, severe endometriosis, severe traumatic lacerations, severe chronic peritonitis, severe chronic pneumonia, severe acute meningoencephalitis, could all be considered conditions which would cause a primate to suffer. These are only a few of the causes of death of the 29 primates in question. This information, along with other data, will be used to file an official complaint with the USDA against the University of Wisconsin, Madison for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Go on to: Is Experimentation on Primates Increasing? How Much Money is Spent on Primate Experimentation?
Return to:
The Primate Experimentation Scandal, 2003 - An Investigative Report

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