Harvard Said to Mistreat Its Monkeys
By JOSHUA D. GOTTLIEB
From The Harvard Crimson
Thursday, November 06, 2003
An animal rights group filed accusations with the
federal government last month accusing Harvard Medical School (HMS) of
mistreating laboratory primates in its Southborough, Mass. research
Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) claims that
Harvard’s New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC) forced primates to
endure social isolation and unnecessary pain.
Don L. Gibbons, an HMS spokesperson, strongly denied
the allegations, which were leveled against NEPRC in a letter to the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“They’re perpetrating misinformation,” Gibbons said of
SAEN. “The entire report they issued was based by using facts
selectively out of a USDA inspection report.”
The accusations came on Oct. 24, the day before SAEN’s
“National Primate Liberation Week” began with protests at NEPRC and in
Kyle M. Hall, a Harvard Divinity School (HDS) student
and president of HDS Students for Animal Justice, said that he
participated in the Square protests because of his inherent opposition
to animal experimentation.
“We believe that all sentient beings—that would
include primates—should be free from exploitation...which could include
experimentation,” Hall said. “We want to hold [researchers] accountable
for their actions.”
Holly B. Anderson ’06, president of the College’s
People for Animal Welfare (PAW), said that PAW did not endorse the
“There are demonstrations that I do know go on, but I
haven’t seen that they have any good reason for them,” Anderson said.
In direct opposition to SAEN’s claims, Anderson said
Harvard should be commended for its treatment of research primates.
“From what I’ve seen, [Harvard] takes extraordinarily
careful measures to treat the animals as well as they can,” she said.
Michael A. Budkie, the executive director of SAEN,
said that NEPRC is unwilling to confront its research subjects’
“They’re saying they can’t do these experiments on
humans because they’re too painful and stressful, but they’re saying
they’re not painful and stressful for the primates,” Michael A. Budkie
said. “Which is it?”
Budkie also accused NEPRC and a University of
Wisconsin research facility of not reporting these experiments as
“These laboratories are not disclosing these
experiments properly,” Budkie wrote.
Gibbons said, however, that Harvard’s success in
random federal inspections disproves Budkie’s accusations.
“We have an incredibly good track record in all of our
USDA inspections,” Gibbons said. “We have three different groups that
can inspect us without notice.”
Gibbons also said that the accusation of social
isolation is inconsistent.
“By [SAEN’s] own literature, they don’t like primates
to be isolated, and when you cage them together they get roughhoused,”
But in captivity, according to Gibbons, primates are
treated well and receive regular veterinary care.
“Every scratch gets reported,” he said.