Posted January 28, 2009
An Ohio-based animal-rights watchdog group has asked the U.S.
Department of Agriculture to investigate UL's New Iberia Research
In a Tuesday letter to USDA official Robert Gibbens, the group
Stop Animal Exploitation Now alleges that nine primates have died at
the New Iberia facility in recent years and that others may be
suffering from serious undiagnosed illnesses.
"I request you initiate action to levy the most substantial fine
allowable and suspend projects, which involve repeat violations,"
SAEN Executive Director Michael Budkie wrote in the letter. "I find
the attitude of callousness and negligence at NIRC to be nothing
less than shocking."
In a statement, Johnny Hardcastle, head of animal resources at
NIRC, said the center was not aware of any investigation.
"The New Iberia Research Center has not been made aware of any
USDA investigation concerning issues of animal health and
well-being," Hardcastle said. "At such time that we receive
information of an investigation, we will cooperate fully with the
In the letter, Budkie wrote that one chimpanzee that died in
November 2007 had only received fiber tablets since 2005, but that
several conditions were noted when the animal died. Among those
conditions, Budkie said, were muscle atrophy, a distended abdomen,
fluid in the abdomen and a heart problem.
Another chimpanzee that reportedly died in August 2006 had
undergone a vasectomy only a few days before, Budkie said, despite
the fact it reportedly had a heart condition. A third chimpanzee
died of gastric bloat, which is often related to an improper diet,
"Additionally, his records do not list any treatment for this
condition; it was discovered only at death," Budkie said. "I believe
that this indicates inadequate observation of this animal."
Budkie also wrote in the letter that four monkeys that reportedly
died at the facility had medical conditions that may have gone
untreated, including intestinal blockage, enlarged kidneys and
septicemia, a blood infection.
Two infant primates also reportedly died because of maternal
neglect or trauma, Budkie said. In a phone interview, Budkie said
such problems can sometimes arise out of the psychological stress of
being in captivity.
"It's not surprising that it would really stress the animals and
cause them to engage in self-destructive behavior," he said. "This
also caused disruption in the relationship between mother and
offspring, and one of the infants killed had serious injuries. It's
a mother literally attacking her offspring."
Budkie said the information about the New Iberia center came from
the facility's own internal records. SAEN monitors several such
facilities across the country and receives documents about many of
them on a regular basis, he said.
All of the records said to be from NIRC will be posted on the
group's Web site in the next couple of days, Budkie said.
According to the site, the group frequently files complaints and
investigates animal research facilities across the country, many of
them associated with universities.
The NIRC Web site says the center includes "diversified animal
housing systems" of varying sizes both indoors and outdoors,
extensive diagnostic equipment, a 12,000 square foot diagnostic lab
and a surgical suite.
Return to Media