Southwest Foundation says allegations "groundless"
By Jim Forsyth
Monday, February 11, 2008
Animal rights activists charged today that San
Antonio's Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, a key facility
for research into biohazards and diseases like HIV, dissected a research
baboon while it was still alive, and called for a federal investigation,
and for federal research dollars to be pulled from the foundation.
"Because if they can't follow the very minimal laws
that exist, they shouldn't get tax dollars to perform research," said
Michael Budkie, Executive Director of the group Stop Animal Exploitation
SAEN citied an investigation by the Department of
Agriculture, which it obtained under the federal Freedom of Information
Southwest Foundation didn't deny that the baboon was
still alive during euthanization, but it says in a statement that the
animal was 'deeply sedated' and 'experienced no pain whatsoever.'
"SFBR strongly objects to the characterization of this
incident, which was fully investigated both internally and by federal
regulatory officials," the Foundation's Julie Collins said.
Southwest Foundation is one of the world's largest
biological research facilities, and it has been the target over the
years of animal rights demonstrators. It is best known in Texas for its
colony of more than 2400 'retired' research monkeys which live in
sprawling cages along heavily traveled Loop 410 near the Foundationís
main campus. The Foundation performs independent testing on
pharmaceutical products, and works on government and private industry
contracts on a variety of chemicals, drugs, and disease treatments.
The Foundation has contracts with the federal
government for some $54 million a year to perform various projects, and
he says the Foundation has determined that the fines in place for
violating animal cruelty laws are a 'legitimate cost of doing business.'
"It would be like a person receiving a speeding ticket
where the fine was three dollars," he said. "You just wouldn't care."
The Foundationís Collins says the federal Office of
Laboratory Animal Welfare has investigated the case, and has concluded
that the Foundation acted 'in compliance with applicable federal
"The USDA requested clarification of standard
operating procedures regarding euthanization, in response to which
additional steps n our euthanasia protocol were instituted and reported
to the USDA," Collins said. "The assertion that the Foundation committed
blatant violations of animal welfare laws and regulations are completely
She said the baboon in question was dissected not for
research purposes, but because it had been 'severely injured.' She
didn't say what caused the injury.