On May 1, 2006, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! held a dramatic news
conference in Mobile, AL to expose the abuse of squirrel and owl monkeys
within the labs of the University of South Alabama (USA). The news
conference received excellent coverage from three television stations
and the local newspaper, the Mobile Press Register. The newspaper story
was picked up by Associated Press and spread across television, radio,
and newspapers in three states.
The details of primate
experiments within the University of South Alabama are very disturbing.
During 2004 USA experimented on 728 primates and used another 75 for
breeding or conditioning. USA receives just over $1.5 million from the
National Institutes of Health for all primate projects.
The suffering of primates at USA is revealed in post-mortem records for
98 monkeys who died at USA during 2003 – 2004. 74 of these primates were
immature monkeys who died of everything from failure to thrive to skull
fractures. For a facility that has breeding of monkeys as one of the
primary purposes, this appears to be an excessively high number of
infant deaths. Additionally, the rate of stillbirths is high, and
neonatal jaundice is rampant. Additionally, the parents are so severely
stressed that they abuse their offspring, such as infant #3814 -- his
hair was plucked and his tail was traumatized.
was clearly a factor in the anesthetic deaths of two adult monkeys at
USA. One of these animals died of aspiration pneumonia -- from inhaling
his/her own vomit. Six of the other adult deaths were marked by
inanition (extreme lack of body fat). This condition indicates either
long-term untreated illness or severe stress.
Some of the
most significant pathologies for adult primates at USA appear to be
mental. Ten USA primates exhibited significant hair loss, from over
grooming which is considered to be the result of stress or stereotypical
behavior. This behavior is usually associated with mental illness and is
often followed by more severe acts of self-injurious behavior. USA
primates suffered with eight instances of trauma either self-induced or
caused by cage mates. In either case, this behavior is also associated
with stress. Other primates at USA have had digits amputated as a result
of self-inflicted injuries.
However, the most shocking of
all the cases is primate 2685 who died on 12-10-04. She had developed an
intussusception of the intestinal tract. This condition occurs when one
part of the intestines slide up into another part, telescoping. The pain
that this animal experienced must have been excruciating. She began to
attack her own body, out of mental illness, to the point that she
cannibalized her own intestinal tract.
Other causes of
death show up in the USA primates including: gastric bloat (which is
related to improper feeding), chronic anemia, chronic diarrhea, etc. In
one instance the bloat led to gastric torsion which was neglected until
the intestinal tract became necrotic. In fact, the records for these
animals never discuss treatment of any kind. When a condition reaches a
chronic level, the solution appears to be to put the animal to death.
We believe that our investigation of this facility will lead to a
reduction in the amount of abuse at the University of South Alabama. Now
the staff at USA knows that SAEN is watching their every move!
The photographs in this article actually came from the website of the
University of South Alabama. While they do not show filthy cages or
highly invasive experimentation, they clearly illustrate the cramped and
stark environment in which the primates are housed. For animals whose
natural environment includes trees, vegetation, and sunlight, this
stainless steel indoor prison cannot possibly meet their needs.
It is no surprise that many of these highly intelligent animals respond
to their intense boredom and desire for escape with insanity. As long as
our society imprisons primates, they will continue to pay for our folly
with their minds.