New deaths at Yemassee ‘monkey farm’? Ohio animal rights group files complaint
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

ACTION ALERT:

Contact:

Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
Director, USDA, Eastern Region
(919) 855-7100
Betty.J.Goldentyer@usda.gov 
aceast@aphis.usda.gov

SAMPLE MESSAGE:

Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against Alpha Genesis for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their ineptitude carelessly killed three more monkeys. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

 

New deaths at Yemassee ‘monkey farm’? Ohio animal rights group files complain
By Wade Livingston, IslandPacket.com, August 29, 2017

An animal rights organization has filed a complaint against an area research facility where, the groups says, three monkeys recently died in accidents.

The organization — Ohio-based Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! — submitted the complaint Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and implied that two of the deaths at an Alpha Genesis facility — the company is headquartered in Yemassee — were caused by electrocution.

The Yemassee location is the same facility from which 19 monkeys escaped last year and 26 primates escaped in 2014. And the company has been the subject of a USDA investigation, the status of which that agency did not disclose.

Attached to SAEN’s complaint were copies of letters — self-reported incident reports — that appear to be written by Alpha Genesis Executive Director Greg Westergaard and are addressed to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

One letter, dated July 5, details the death of a monkey that, a month earlier, had gotten stuck in a piece of broken “enrichment equipment.”

Another letter, dated May 16, notes two monkeys were found dead after apparently interacting with electrical cords. Autopsy results showed “no clear case of death though it is possible that” a cord in one instance and a cable in the other were involved.

“For both of these incidents the facility claims that there was ‘no clear cause of death,’ SAEN Executive Director Michael Budkie wrote to the USDA, an organization that regulates the facility using the Animal Welfare Act. “The obvious implication for both of these incidents is that these primates accessed electrical cords and as a result were electrocuted.”

Westergaard did not return a message left for him on his cell phone Friday. An email and phone message left with his office Monday were also not returned.

In May 2016, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said Alpha Genesis was the subject of an “open investigation” — one Westergaard said at the time stemmed from the 2014 monkey escapes — but would not comment further on the matter.

When asked Monday if Alpha Genesis was currently the subject of USDA investigations — and what the status and results of the earlier ongoing investigation were — USDA spokesperson Andre Bell wrote in an email to the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette that the agency “will no longer confirm whether (it) has open investigations” because when they are “reported in the media or on other sites, some (people) may mistakenly presume that the individual or entity has already been found to have violated the law.”

A search of USDA APHIS’ publicly available reports on its website showed the latest USDA “routine inspection” — conducted in January — found no “non-compliant items.” Inspections conducted in October and May 2016 did not find any violations, either.

The most recent violations were noted in a February 2016 inspection that found two instances of non-compliance. That inspection noted, among others, the deaths of two primates previously reported by the newspapers.

It also noted an instance of dehydrated animals — a concern SAEN raised in its recent complaint to the USDA.

Citing another self-report by Westergaard to the NIH on May 4, Budkie called the dehydration of seven monkeys a “serious violation.”

According to the report to NIH, the animals’ condition was discovered when they were sedated for physical examination.

“(I)f no exam had been performed,” Budkie wrote to the USDA, “these monkeys could have died.” 

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