National watchdog group claims instances of animal
cruelty, wasted federal tax dollars
Written by CHARLES HINRIKSSON
Published April 23, 2009
Tuesday marked the start of a week-long airing of a graphic
television commercial on CNN, FOX News and Animal planet in
California portraying images of primates being abused at the
California National Primate Research Center affiliated with UC
The commercial, funded by Stop Animal Exploitation Now, aims to
halt what the group considers to be violations of federal law
regarding issues of animal rights at the government-funded research
center as well as similar centers at UCLA and UCSF.
The ad will air in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and
Davis. It begins with the phrase "this is torture" and depicts
monkeys strapped into restraint chairs with their necks constricted
by metal bands. One image shows a monkey with cylindrical objects
near its head, implying they have been bolted into its skull.
"These primate research centers are engaging research practices
that are directly tied to violations of federal law," said Michael
Budkie, SAEN spokesperson and executive director.
Budkie is currently in the process of suing UCLA for failure to
release documents regarding primate research and has issued a formal
complaint against the UCSF for animal abuse violations.
University officials at Davis claim these accusations are invalid
"We've heard these allegations before," said Andy Fell, director
of the UC Davis News Room. "The animals at the primate center are
well cared for, the USDA has made 28 unannounced inspections this
year and have encountered no violations of federal law."
Dallas Hyde, director of the Center, denies the photos in the
commercial came from this facility.
"What I find interesting is that the photos being shown in the
commercial are not from the California National Primate Research
Center" Hyde said. "I can honestly say I think we run a very good
facility here in terms of animal care."
Budkie says that although the photos come from the Primate Vision
Experiment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, details
from primate health care records at CNPRC reveal that this kind of
research is being conducting there too.
Other accusations made by SAEN concern the expenses surrounding
primate research, which has been conducted nationwide since the
"In the past years [primate research centers] have cumulatively
wasted approximately $100 million on 52 grants funding people across
the nation to conduct the same research simultaneously at 25
laboratories," Budkie said. "Animal research isn't about health or
science, it's about money. It is a business."
Research conducted at these facilities include studies to develop
AIDS vaccines in which primates are infected by the simian
"Primates aren't subject to HIV," Budkie said. "You can't study a
human disease in a different species."
UC Davis officials refute these accusations by citing the
development of drugs such as Tenofovir, a pharmaceutical that was
developed at the California National Primate Research Center.
"Virtually all retroviral medicines are developed using non human
primates," said Dallas Hyde, director the Center. "Tenofovir blocks
transmission of HIV from mother to infant during pregnancy, it works
very well and it is being used extensively in Africa right now."
Established in 1962, the CNPRC is located on 300 acres west of
campus, has staff of 300 and currently houses 4,700 monkeys.
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