Animal rights group files complaint against Baptist
By Fran Daniel, JournalNow.com, July 17, 2015
A national research watchdog organization has filed a complaint against Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center over the escape and injury of several research monkeys from their primary enclosures.
Stop Animal Exploitation NOW, based in Milford, Ohio, filed the complaint on June 29 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stating that Wake Forest Baptist violated the Animal Welfare Act on two occasions this year.
“The drastic incompetence of Wake Forest University that lead to several primate escapes and injuries must be punished,” Stacey Ellison, research analyst for SAEN said in a letter to the USDA.
But Wake Forest Baptist said on Thursday that in both incidents the “monkeys got out of their primary enclosures and were loose in their respective locked rooms. There was no risk that the animals would escape into the community.”
SAEN wants the Agriculture Department to fine Wake Forest Baptist $30,000 for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The complaint was based on a USDA inspection report dated June 1. The inspection occurred from June 1 to June 3 and focused on the inspection of animals housed by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, animal facilities, and certain records and documents.
On Feb. 7, two of four socially housed cynomolgus monkeys were found outside their primary enclosure and loose in the room, according to the report. One of the monkeys received injuries to its lip and finger. It was determined that the locks had not been properly latched, that the primates unlatched the closing mechanism on the door and escaped. The injuries were treated and the animal made a full recovery.
On March 2, a rhesus monkey was found outside its primary enclosure and loose in the room, stated the report. A secondary way to secure the door, such as a lock, had not been used. The monkey received injuries to a toe and tongue, which were treated. The primate made a full recovery.
Wake Forest Baptist said that the animals were returned to their primary enclosures and one monkey returned on its own.
“All animals were fully evaluated by veterinary staff,” Wake Forest Baptist said. “The two injuries that occurred were the result of the animals biting each other, behavior that naturally occurs in social groups.”
“We conducted an investigation, self-reported these two incidents to the appropriate federal agencies and immediately implemented corrective actions to prevent future incidents,” the medical center said.
The USDA has investigated Wake Forest Baptist in the past. On Dec. 17, 2012,
for example, Wake Forest Baptist was fined $35,464 by the USDA for various
violations of the Animal Welfare Act in connection with the medical center’s
animal-research procedures. The medical center paid the fine.
The USDA investigated eight events that occurred at Wake Forest Baptist from 2009 to 2012. One of those events was the escape of a female monkey from a university research center near Clemmons in late June 2012. The monkey roamed parts of southern Forsyth and northern Davidson counties for 11 days. It was recovered unharmed.
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