Yemassee animal research group, Alpha Genesis, fined after monkey mishaps at facility
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Yemassee monkey breeding facility fined $12K for escape violations
By Michael Majchrowicz, PostAndCourier.com, June 14, 2018

Alpha Genesis Inc., an animal research firm based in Yemassee, was fined $12,600 last summer after mishandling several dozen monkeys in six separate instances between December 2014 and February 2016.

Documentation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provided by watchdog group SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now), which monitors research facilities and animal breeders, highlighted the violations which included: an incident in December 2014 during which 26 monkeys temporarily escaped their enclosure after it wasn’t properly secured; a monkey escaping its transfer cage, also in December 2014, while being moved to a medical clinic and was never recaptured.

Additionally, at least six monkeys in February 2015 were treated for dehydration after workers power washing cages accidentally switched off a water line; two monkeys escaping from a “thin wire” outdoor chain-link enclosure in June 2015 leading to one of monkey’s deaths after it was darted; in August 2015, one monkey was placed into the incorrect social group and subsequently killed by other monkeys; in February 2016, one monkey temporarily escaped its cage after it wasn’t properly secured.

In a letter to the director of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Michael A. Budkie — who runs SAEN — slammed the penalty against Alpha Genesis, saying it was not sufficient.

“While it is important that Alpha Genesis WAS ACTUALLY FINED [sic], it is also extremely disappointing that the fine was only $12,600,” Budkie wrote in the letter dated June 12, which he provided.

In an interview Wednesday, Alpha Genesis CEO Greg Westergaard confirmed the violations and said the group paid the $12,600 citation in July of last year. Several of the violations reported to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service by SAEN, he said, were also self-reported by Alpha Genesis.

“Whenever we have a (mishap) here...we voluntarily report that,” Westergaard said, adding that modifications to enclosures were made following the violations. The citations and fines, he said, were reasonable and there was no reason to appeal them.

Previously, five monkeys died at the facility between 2011 and 2012, according to APHIS. Later, in 2016, 19 monkeys escaped from Alpha Genesis but were recaptured.

Westergaard also said that Alpha Genesis is responsible for roughly 6,000 monkeys at any given time. In the event that any monkeys escape the facility, Westergaard said the animals do not carry any diseases and do not pose any significant danger to the public.

“They're purely in our breeding program,” he said. “They pose no danger. They're not aggressive (and) they’re used to people.”

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