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

Media Coverage

Activist decries death rate at Oregon primate center

Federal report - A center spokesman says the statistics were misinterpreted

Monday, February 26, 2007
ANDY DWORKIN

An animal rights activist says federal reports show "a high death rate" and "clear indications of severe stress" among monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center.

But a spokesman for the Oregon center said the activist's criticism misinterprets many of the statistics, which were drawn from public reports filed by the eight U.S. national primate research centers. And the activist, Michael Budkie, said on Friday that his data show the Oregon center is fifth of eight centers in death rate -- about the middle of the pack.

Budkie, who runs Stop Animal Experimentation Now out of his Ohio home, said death rates ranged from 5.1 percent at California's center to 22.4 percent at Louisiana's. Oregon's was 12.4 percent. That includes animals that died of natural causes and those killed in experiments. The rates can vary depending on the kind of experiments being done and the kind of monkeys kept at each center. He said the Oregon center logged 463 primate deaths in 2005.

Budkie noted that monkeys at the Oregon center, like those in other centers, sometimes injure themselves or other monkeys and display unusual behaviors.

About 4,000 monkeys now live at the Hillsboro center, which is run by Oregon Health & Science University. Center spokesman Jim Newman said Budkie's report contains "both major and minor errors" and often misinterprets the meaning of statistics in the "annual progress report" the center filed with the National Institutes of Health.

For instance, Budkie's letter mentions "2284 (potentially 65% of center animals) cases of wound management" and "1400 (potentially 40% of center animals) incidents of bandaging." But the statistics refer to individual visits by veterinarians, which could be to the same animal for the same incident. "If you have an animal that gets a cut, and you change its bandage every day for two weeks," that would count as 14 bandagings, Newman said. The statistics are reported that way to track how much work center employees do, since the NIH funds the center.

Newman said the 463 deaths included 204 animals killed for experiments, 105 that died of illness or natural causes, 78 killed for humane reasons (such as severe illness) and 66 fetal monkeys that were miscarried. Newman said he thinks those numbers are in line with previous years, though he did not have exact statistics on hand.

Budkie said he is worried generally about the level of death and injuries across the U.S. primate centers, and would like to see all the rates drop. His group's ultimate goal is to end all animal testing.

Budkie said he sent a letter asking for a tour of the Oregon center, but doubts he'll get an offer: "I'm not holding my breath." The center does, however, regularly arrange tours for people interested in finding out more, unless someone is "a known security risk," Newman said. The center just got Budkie's tour request on Friday and hadn't decided how to respond, he said.

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