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
USDA/APHIS information regarding violations of the AWA
is available on the USDA website at
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.
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.
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.
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
This is significant because Duke University routinely
handles over 400 primates per year.
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
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.
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
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.