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

Media Coverage

Seven research monkeys die at UCD facility

Thursday August 26, 2004

Heater malfunction under investigation

By KATY TANG

What was supposed to be a routine check for lab technicians at a UC Davis medical research facility turned tragic when they discovered that a heating system had malfunctioned in a room - killing seven research monkeys on Saturday.

Within 10 minutes of discovering the malfunction, a veterinarian arrived at the building and determined that two of the eight monkeys in the same room were still alive, according to Dallas Hyde, director of the California National Research Primate Center at UCD.

Hyde said the two monkeys were immediately put on fluids to treat the dehydration, but one of the monkeys had to be euthanized due to a kidney failure. The carcasses were frozen and will be disposed of at an incinerator in Utah.

The temperature in the rooms containing monkeys are usually held at around 75 degrees, Hyde said. According to what was recorded, the room had shot up to 115 degrees. The cause of the malfunction is still under investigation.

"There was supposed to have been a backup system to shut everything down, but that failed as well," Hyde said.

The cynomolgus monkeys - or long-tailed Macaques - were housed in the Animal Resources Science building located at the south of campus, which served as an overflow space for the Primate Center, said UCD spokesman Andy Fell. They ranged from five to eight years old.

"Those rooms [at the overflow building] didn't have temperature alarms," Fell said. "The other monkeys in neighboring rooms have been moved out to the Primate Center as a precaution."

The 32 monkeys that were previously at the ARS building are now residing at the Primate Center's quarantine space, where there are temperature monitoring systems as well as primate staff checking on the animals.

The monkeys at the overflow building were checked twice a day by the primate staff, in the evening and the morning. Hyde said lab technicians apparently recorded that they had checked the animals at about 3 p.m. on Friday, and again at 6 a.m. Saturday - just two hours prior to the discovery.

The monkeys were part of a breeding colony, and had not yet been assigned to particular experiments. There will be no suspension in experiments at the Primate Center, but the overflow facility will be shut down permanently, according to Fell. Construction projects for new buildings are in progress, which will house the monkeys once completed.

The Primate Center houses about 4,000 monkeys, and many of them are used for research in studying HIV/AIDS, chronic stress, and Alzheimer's disease.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now - an Ohio-based animal-rights watchdog association - released a statement Monday accusing the UCD staff of negligence. Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN, said in the statement that "the situation has underscored the obvious need for more oversight of laboratories."

SAEN is calling for an independent investigation and a suspension of experiments at the Primate Center. Hyde said SAEN has "a right to ask for details.we want to know as much as they do."

Just two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had made an unannounced inspection of the facility and deemed it satisfactory, Hyde said.

"We're distraught over the whole issue," he said. "Obviously the animals did suffer when this happened, and that's one of the things we work tirelessly to prevent."

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