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

The Defender
Vol. 4, No. 2 - Spring 2006

Primate Experimentation in the U.S. – The Awful Truth

The Primate Experimentation Scandal, 2005: An Investigative Report which SAEN released during National Primate Liberation Week 2005 is summarized in this article. The full report is posted on our website at www.saenonline.org .

The use of primates in experimentation is an extremely controversial issue. Some scientists claim that primate experimentation is crucial to medical advancement.1 Others claim that the use of primates has not contributed to advances in the diseases that are currently killing humans (i.e. heart disease, cancer, HIV, etc.) 2 While humans are more closely related to primates than to other species, primates are still too dissimilar to be suitable subjects for studies of human diseases.

Funding for primate experimentation is at an all-time high with the overall estimate for federal spending in this area (including the NIH, DOD, USDA, NSF, etc.) at $1.6 billion. The number of primate grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has risen 67% in the last ten years. The funding of the Primate Research Center System has risen 379% in the last six years to reach $1 billion.

Funding statistics for the two most commonly used primate species (macaques & baboons – making up over 93% of all primates in U.S. labs) show that the majority of primate projects funded by the NIH are not relevant to two of the most common killers of Americans -- heart disease and cancer.

Funding data also shows that an extremely high level of duplication exists in many areas of experimentation, with some types of projects (in a cross-section of primate species) being funded as much as 182 times simultaneously at an estimated cost of $63.7 million. Other areas of duplication exist, the cumulative total of duplicative studies for the two most commonly used primate species reaches $266 million per year, or 17% of all primate experimentation funding.

Primate experimentation statistics promulgated by the USDA show an increase of 24% in primate use in a ten-year period (1995 – 2004). While a comparison of USDA census statistics for 2001 versus 2004 show an increase of 13% in three years. The population of the eight laboratories that make up the National Primate Research Center System has increased 35% in a five-year period (1997 – 2002). So, by several different measures over several different time periods, the numbers all agree in one way – primate experimentation in the U.S. is increasing substantially. The population of primates in labs and dealers has reached 120,000.

Violations of federal law regulating animal experimentation has increased by 35% in a two-year period reaching almost 1500, which divides out to more than one violation annually for every lab in the United States.

Primates undergo highly invasive experimentation in many facilities in the U.S. Examinations of internal documents from major laboratories across the U.S. indicate that primates suffer from severe stress within the laboratory environment reacting with violence towards both themselves (self-injurious behavior) and their cage mates. The primates within a facility in Oregon had 1601 traumatic injuries in one year, with 15% of the indoor-housed primates were considered to be psychologically abnormal. Traumatic injury rates within another lab reached 13%.

In the last year after reviewing primate records from facility after facility the same finding is far too obvious – the primates held captive in U.S. labs are so severely stressed that they have lost their minds.

Important Statistics:

  • Federal spending on primate experimentation has reached $1.6 billion
  • 93% of primate experiments funded by the NIH are not relevant to major diseases that kill the people in the U.S.
  • Government statistics show increases in primate experiment grants of 67% in ten years
  • Captive primate population in labs & dealers reaches all-time high of 120,000
  • National Primate Research Center System funding passes $1 billion


1. Expert Panel’s Recommendations for the Regional Primate Research Centers Program, January 18, 2001, Office of Science Policy and Public Liaison

2. Is Primate –Modeled Research Crucial, C. Ray Greek, in Pathways to Progress, available at http://www.curedisease.com/Pathways/PathwaysFall03.pdf 

Go on to University of California Labs – Statewide Suffering and Waste
Return to Vol. 4, No. 2 - Spring 2006
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