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

The Defender
From the Spring 2007 Issue

Inside the UC Davis Primate Research Center

SAEN’s work against animal experimentation is usually based on information obtained through in-depth investigations. It is very rare to have the opportunity to work with someone who has been on the inside and has seen the realities of animal experimentation first hand.

In February of 2006, we were contacted by Cheri Stevens, a former animal caretaker, who had worked at the California Primate Research Center (CPRC) for approximately 3 years, ending in 2005. She truly cared for the primates which were her responsibility and worked to give them the best possible quality of life. She left voluntarily due to conflict with management -- they knew that truly caring for the animals was her first priority.

On Wednesday, October 11th SAEN’s Executive Director, Michael Budkie traveled to Sacramento to coordinate the dramatic news conference which would release Cheri Stevens’ detailed statement to the media along with information from internal documents obtained by SAEN through the California Public Records Act.

CPRC records revealed that primates within this facility suffered from many serious pathological conditions including pneumonia, enteritis, and peritonitis. Many of these animals had reached a point of severe emaciation (starvation) or dehydration (lack of water). This clearly indicates that they had been allowed to suffer unnecessarily and may have been denied adequate veterinary care.

Trauma is also frequent among the primates at CPRC. Both adult fighting and infant abuse is commonplace, clearly exposing the severely stressful nature of life inside a laboratory.

Cheri’s statements revealed extreme cruelty and neglect at CPRC. She spoke in general terms and about individual animals. She discussed a highly invasive procedure which is common at many facilities:

“There is nothing humane about placing a post on an animal's head that is held in place dental acrylic. First there is little room for error in the surgical procedure necessary to provide such an inhumane way to ensure an animal will remain still, whether they voluntarily wish to do so or not. More often than not infections will develop at the site of the head post unless cleaned more often than just daily.”

Her experiences with two individual primates, Buzz and an infant, reveal the overall situation at CPRC. Buzz’s problems began when a researcher injured him during a procedure:

“Barnes wounded the animal's eardrum, possibly unbeknownst to her, for nothing was done to care for the injuries received. Buzz was reported several times by animal techs during morning health rounds for having oozing ears.

. . . When he finally was taken in by therapeutics, it was found that what had started out as an outer ear infection created by the wound inflicted by Barnes had at that point escalated into a brain abscess.

Buzz was in much pain during his last days. I expressed concern and asked why he was being kept alive even though he was clearly in pain; I was told that they were waiting to be able to collect data. If they euthanized him to end his suffering, all research data would be lost. . . . By prolonging his death for research the investigator clearly stated that this animal’s welfare was secondary to her research.”

An infant primate which Cheri befriended had a sad end:

“I reached into the cage and “introduced myself.” It took little convincing and in no time the animal warmed up to me. I was able to get him to drink the liquid therapeutics provided and got him to eat a little of the rice cereal and grapes in his cage. He grew more and more comfortable with me and eventually even let me hold him. I stayed through lunch to care for him, and he seemed to be coming around. I left the animal for some time to feed the other animals I was responsible for that day, and quickly returned to his cage when I was finished. I carefully bundled the animal in a towel and removed him from his cage. I took a seat on a stool and just held him close. The animal became so comfortable that he fell asleep on my chest for what I was told was the first time since he had been in therapeutics.

The time for me to go home was quickly approaching, and I was having trouble with the idea of leaving him. I thought about staying, but for how long? I could not move in. I had to go home some time. Finally around 4:15 I decided I had done all that I could and certainly more than anyone else. He already was showing signs of improvement so I placed him back in his cage, still sleeping and went home for my two days off.

The following day I made a few calls to therapeutics to check on the infant primate but was not able to reach anyone and no one returned my phone calls. When I returned to work, I found out that the very next day, my first day off, they decided to euthanize him. I was told that there was nothing that they could do for him so they euthanized him. I could not believe it. I had done so much for him that resulted in so little. I have felt guilty for so long, because when I left I knew that no one would take the time to help him eat, drink, or even make him feel secure. But I know now that it was not my fault that the primate did not make it. It is the fault of the CNPRC for the ideas that they silently instill. To them the infant primate was just an animal beneath them, just a number that could be replaced this year or the next. To me he is one of many reasons to stand up against the evils of animal exploitation.”

The shocking information revealed at this news conference sped across media in northern California, with many television and radio stations carrying the story.
The following day SAEN announced the filing of an official complaint with the USDA, requesting an immediate investigation of the California Primate Research Center. This story again galvanized the media, with an Associated Press story speeding across the globe, even reaching media outlets as far away as France and Russia.

In a story carried by the Sacramento Bee newspaper, Dallas Hyde, Director of the CPRC, announced that a committee will conduct an internal investigation of the CPRC.

In addition to filing a complaint with the USDA, SAEN staff had requested a meeting with UC Davis staff. However, in an article published in the Aggie (the UC Davis student paper) UC Davis spokesperson Andy Fell said, "There are no plans for UC Davis representatives to meet with this group."

We cannot adequately thank Cheri Stevens for the courage she has shown by coming forward to tell the public the truth about the abuse and neglect experienced by monkeys at CPRC. We will continue to work with her to insure that her bravery will result in real changes. You can help by contacting UC Davis Chancellor Larry N. Vanderhoef to demand that he meet with SAEN’s Executive Director, Michael Budkie, to address serious concerns about the overall situation within the California Primate Research Center.

Chancellor Larry N. Vanderhoef
Mrak Hall, Fifth Floor University of California, Davis One Shields Ave Davis, CA 95616
(530) 752-2065
[email protected]

For further information, please go to the SAEN website at: www.saenonline.org where both Cheri Stevens’ statement and the prepared statement issued by SAEN’s Executive Director, Michael Budkie, are posted in their entirety for your reading. Other information on the SAEN website about the UC Davis laboratories can be found in our Facilities and Reports section and in the Protocols for Animal Use and Care section which contains over 170 UC Davis Primate Research protocols in their entirety.

Go on to From the Desk of Michael Budkie, SAEN’s Executive Director
Return to
Spring 2007 Issue
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