Violations of federal laws by animal research facilities are sharply
increasing. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the laboratories of
Vanderbilt University in Nashville (TN). In the period from the start of
2005 to mid-2007, Vanderbilt amassed 63 separate Animal Welfare Act
violations including 14 repeat infractions. The primary culprits at
Vanderbilt are the members of the Institutional Animal Care and Use
Committee, which had 22 separate violations. Vanderbilt also had 9
violations in the area of veterinary care.
In January, 2007, a rabbit was killed by being run through a cage
washer; while in May of that same year, three cotton rats were killed
due to improper handling. However, the best way to reveal the level of
callousness and abuse which is routinely practiced on animals at
Vanderbilt is to examine the life of primate R571F.
Primate R571F is first mentioned on the second page of a USDA
inspection report dated 6/30/06. According to this document, R571F was
given no water whatsoever on 6/25/06. And on the following day, 6/26/06,
she received only eight ounces of juice. The USDA inspector describes
the depressed condition of this abused monkey:
“The primate appeared more quiet and withdrawn (sitting in the back
corner, leaning against the wall) than the other primates to this
inspector on the morning of 6/26/06. Based on the lack of records one
couldn’t tell if this was normal or abnormal behavior for her. The
weight records for the month of June for R571F show a steady decrease
the first half of the month then a leveling in the primate’s body
This is a clear instance of abuse and neglect at Vanderbilt and is
simply inexcusable. Anti-cruelty laws require that the basic needs of
animals be met, including providing adequate food and water.
Apparently, researchers are exempt not only from anti-cruelty laws,
but also from other things common to all civilized people, like decency.
R571F shows up again in another USDA inspection report dated 12/4/06.
In this report we find that:
“The laboratory records for primate R571F . . . Dated May 21,
2006 shows that laboratory personnel performed a durascrape. The
medical record for primate R571F states that on May 25, 2006 that a
veterinarian was called on May 24th 2006 regarding the primate
“holding head after cleaning. . . . Neither the laboratory record,
the medical record or the controlled substance log show that any
anesthetics or analgesics were administered before, during or after
the cleaning/durascrape procedure.”
Not only has this primate been deprived of water, but her brain was
scraped without anesthesia. In the case of primate R571F, the staff of
this facility has demonstrated a clear pattern of ongoing abuse and
neglect as well as a callous disregard for federal regulations.
Other information has come to light indicating that Vanderbilt has
been the subject of many instances of federal violations, even preceding
the current period. According to internal Vanderbilt Medical Center
correspondence from 2004, issues existed involving unapproved surgeries
on primates in neurological protocols and the harassment of staff for
reporting Animal Welfare Act non-compliances. So, it is clear that the
Vanderbilt staff connected with neurological research have a total
disregard for the law because they have had ongoing violations of the
Animal Welfare Act for at least three years and have also attempted to
hide their actions by intimidating employees who were reporting them.