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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

The Defender
Vol. 3, No. 1 - Spring/Summer 2004

A Tale of Two Laboratories -- Masquerading as Science

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) has recently exposed terrible abuses of primates within two of our nation’s largest laboratories -- the National Primate Research Centers that are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and Harvard. The results of our investigations are compiled in two reports which are available on our website.

Collectively, these laboratories confine and experiment on roughly 3200 primates per year. Together, they spent $278 million on primate experimentation during the 2002 - 2003 reporting year.

Every year these facilities are required to report on their activities to the agency which provides the bulk of their funding, the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These reports have been the basis of our investigations. We have also utilized medical records for the primates confined within the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

These two laboratories are a part of the National Primate Research Center System which also includes laboratories in: San Antonio, TX (Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research); Davis, CA (University of California Davis); New Orleans, LA (Tulane); Seattle (University of Washington, Seattle); Atlanta, GA (Emory); and Portland, OR (Oregon Health Sciences University).

Wisconsin Primate Research Center

The Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC) housed approximately 1500 primates during the reporting period for May 2002 – April 2003. The majority of these primates are rhesus macaques and the second largest group is marmosets. The primate center brought $62,139,601 in funding (primarily from the NIH) to the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The report filed by the Wisconsin facility contained many very puzzling pieces of information. WNPRC reported 147 primate deaths to the NIH, but provided 157 primate necropsy reports (post mortem examinations) to SAEN as a response to a document request. The report filed by the WNPRC with the NIH listed no macaque monkey births during the reporting period. However, necropsy reports for primates aged: 1 day (3x), 2 days, 1 week, 2 ½ weeks, and 1 month (2x) were provided to SAEN in response to the same document request. Unless some breeder is in the habit of shipping one-day-old primates, WNPRC has filed an inaccurate and misleading report. The progress report also lists no deaths among infant/juvenile marmosets. However, WNPRC provided necropsy reports for 40 marmosets in the 1 day – 1 month old category.

It is quite apparent that the primates at the WNPRC are extremely stressed. Five of the 157 primates who died during this period were so severely stressed as to have begun to engage in self-mutilation -- including one male marmoset who had chewed off 40% of his tail. 54.3% of the macaques who died exhibited gastro-intestinal tract diseases, while 64% of the marmosets exhibited similar pathological conditions. The marmoset colony had an infant mortality rate of 58.1%.

The pathological conditions the WNPRC primates suffer from include: enteritis, encephalitis, meningitis, peritonitis, lymphosarcoma, hepatitis, etc. Twenty-three primates (rhesus or marmosets) were either markedly thin or emaciated at death. This indicates that theses animals were allowed to progress to an excessive level of debilitation as a result of disease (this was not the result of any experimental protocol). This calls into question the adequacy of WNPRC veterinary care.

Several of the more unusual deaths (i.e. encephalitis, meningitis, etc.) were caused by experimental procedures that opened the skull and/or attached head caps on the skulls of primates. Some of these animals had openings in their skulls which left the brain visible.

The severe stress level of the primates at WNPRC can, in many cases, be attributed to the experimentation in which the animals were used. Several of these projects deliberately subjected the animals to stress by removing young animals from the care of their mothers. However, these projects are not large enough to account for the severely heightened stress levels in the macaques and marmosets caged at WNPRC. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the laboratory environment itself is the underlying cause.

The severely elevated stress levels exhibited by the inmates at WNPRC are sufficient to have altered their bodily chemistry such that these animals would respond to situations differently than would their free-ranging members of their own species. These primates would not accurately represent animals of their own species, let alone human beings.

New England Primate Center

The New England National Primate Research Center (NENPRC) imprisons/experiments on approximately 1700 primates per year. This laboratory brings just over $215 million per year to Harvard.

It is apparent that the condition of the primates at the NENPRC is cause for great concern. The psychological well being of these animals is a major issue with over 370 primates (rhesus and squirrel monkeys) exhibiting psychologically abnormal behavior. It is highly possible that these unfortunate primates are being maintained in a purposely stressed condition, so that they may serve as subjects in one of ten separate experiments at NENPRC which deal with psychological pathology including self-injury. The instances of psychological abnormality within the NENPRC squirrel monkey population is most likely directly related to the use of these primates in addiction experiments which can involve confinement to restraint chairs, the use of electric shock, and/or drug withdrawal.

The overall infant mortality rate at NENPRC may be as high as 55%, with 144 spontaneous abortions or neonatal deaths taking place in one year. Also, the vast majority (159) of the marmosets within the experimental colony of the center died during the last reporting year, primarily from disease.

Of the 417 NENPRC primates who died and were necropsied during the 2002 - 2003 reporting year, 189 died of disease, 179 died during experimentation, and another 49 deaths remain unexplained. This equals more than one primate death every day of the year!

The only conclusion that can be drawn from these issues is that the primates at the NENPRC are highly stressed animals with significant instances of both physical and mental illness. The issues raised in our report must cast doubt on the quality of veterinary care given to the primates within this laboratory. The high

number of animals who die during experimentation must also raise serious concerns as to the invasiveness of the experimentation. The psychological needs of many of these animals are also apparently being ignored to insure the existence of a population of mentally aberrant primates for use in experimentation.

We Need Your Letters

Even though our overall goal is the closure of these laboratories, we must begin with a governmental investigation.

Please write to these legislators to request that they launch congressional investigative hearings to examine conditions within the eight laboratories which constitute the Primate Research Center System. Don’t forget to use our website for details to include in your letters.

The Honorable Michael Bilirakis
Chair of the Subcommittee on Health of the
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2269 Rayburn HOB House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Jon Kyl
Chair of the Subcommittee on Health Care of the
Senate Committee on Finance
730 Hart Senate Building
Washington, D.C. 20510


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