January 31, 2009
Stop Animal Exploitation Now, an animal-rights watchdog group
headquartered in Ohio, has levied strong charges against UL
Lafayette's New Iberia Research Center, claiming mistreatment of
animals there. SAEN has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to
investigate the center and "initiate action to levy the most
substantial fine allowable and suspend projects which involve repeat
Michael Budkie, SAEN's executive director, has written to the
agriculture department, saying, "I find the attitude of callousness
and negligence at NIRC to be nothing less than shocking."
Adding to the seriousness of the SAEN charges are claims that
they came from the New Iberia facility's own internal records.
The SAEN report includes allegations that nine primates have died
at the facility in recent years and that others may be suffering
from serious undiagnosed illnesses.
Budkie wrote that one chimpanzee that died in 2007 had received
nothing but fiber tablets since 2005, despite the fact that muscle
atrophy, a distended abdomen, fluid in the abdomen and a heart
problem were found when the animal died.
SAEN charges that a chimpanzee that reportedly died in 2006 had
undergone a vasectomy only a few days before, despite reports of a
heart condition. Gastric bloat, often related to an improper diet,
was detected in an examination after the animal died. Budkie's
letter to the USDA claims four monkeys died of medical conditions
Johnny Hardcastle, head of animal resources at the research
center, pledged cooperation if notified of a USDA investigation. He
and other UL officials should not wait for a formal presentation of
charges before launching their own investigation. The allegations
are too strong.
This is not the first time charges have been made. An
investigation was launched in 1998, but did not reveal evidence of
abuse at the center or confirm that animals were suffering great
pain. When such charges are raised, however, the university should
start an in-depth investigation immediately.
Using animals to advance medical science is reprehensible in the
eyes of many animal rights activists. It is not a pleasant reality
for the rest of us. We support it only because of the absence of
alternatives. Much research is impossible without the use of live
Had animal-rights activists prevailed through the years, we might
still be living with the terror of infectious diseases. Polio would
be a dark and constant threat. Onslaughts of smallpox, diphtheria
and cholera would cause mass tragedy. Whooping cough would be a
We urge a thorough investigation by university and primate center
officials. If the SAEN charges are validated, the university must
act quickly and firmly to assure that any improper treatment at the
center is halted.
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