UW fined for monkey deaths in primate research lab

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UW fined for monkey deaths in primate research lab

By Dana Rebik, Q13 FOX News, October 18, 2011

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UW fined for monkey deaths in primate research lab

SEATTLE—Every year, tens of thousands of monkeys are used as test subjects in labs around the country.

Schools defend such experiments as essential to the advancement of medicine. The Department of Agriculture conducts annual spot inspections of these facilities and can step in when problems are identified.

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In the past five years at the University of Washington's Primate Research Center one monkey died of malnutrition, two more were found to be kept in cages that were two small and one scientist was fined for performing an excessive number of surgeries on the same animals. The incidents were uncovered after an anonymous complaint led to a USDA investigation.

“They finally got along to levying a fine which is $10,000 and the University gets millions of dollars in research money, so this is just a little drop in their bucket,” said Rachel Bjork with Northwest Animal Rights Network. “They like to say they are doing ground breaking research. They like to say they’re saving lives but I’m trying to understand the connection between sticking coils in a monkey’s eyes and saving a human life.”

The University released a statement responding:

“The University of Washington takes great care to ensure that their animals are healthy and well-maintained. Any time there is an unexpected death of a research animal, the UW reports the incident to the USDA and provides full disclosure. Our goal is to provide advances in medical care and treatment. The USDA recently visited the UW and found no deficiencies in its animal care program."

The USDA is also investigating Oregon Health Science University's primate research center, and has levied similar fines against Harvard Medical School, Vanderbilt and Princeton for violations that led to animal deaths.

“To do this research, it’s wasteful and the fact of what they’re doing to these animals should be criminal,” said Bjork.

The University of Washington paid a $10,893 fine in April 2011. The USDA says if repeat violations are found in future inspections, the University could face steeper penalties.

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