The Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SWFBR) of San Antonio
(TX) receives the federal grant which funds the Southwest National
Primate Research Center. This primate center imprisons over 5700
primates ranging from spider monkeys, tamarins, marmosets, chimpanzees,
baboons, to macaque monkeys. During 2006 primate center researchers
received approximately $54 million per year in research project funding.
During 2007 SWFBR was cited for over a dozen violations of the Animal
Welfare Act by USDA/APHIS. During an inspection dated 4/3/07, this
facility was cited repeatedly for serious infractions by USDA Veterinary
Medical Officer, Elizabeth Pannill. Clearly, the most severe of these
violations involved a 2006 incident when a male baboon was designated
for euthanasia, necropsy, and tissue harvest to be performed on 4/28/06.
Dr. Pannill goes on to make one of the most spine chilling statements
that I have read in my 20 years of animal protection work:
“Euthanasia means the humane destruction of an animal accomplished by
a method that produces rapid unconsciousness and subsequent death
without evidence of pain or distress…euthanasia of one baboon was not
accomplished as described above…it was not dead prior to the start of
the necropsy procedure.”
This shocking information was revealed to the public in a joint news
conference on February 16, 2008, held by SAEN and Wildlife Rescue and
Rehabilitation of San Antonio. This dramatic event was covered by
KENS-TV, KSAT-TV, WOAI-TV, KTSA-TV, Univision Television Network, WOAI-Radio,
KTSA-Radio, and the San Antonio newspaper Express-News.
During the news conference, SAEN’s Executive Director, Michael
Budkie, announced serious penalties sought against SWFBR by SAEN:
“While we have filed an Official Complaint with the USDA to obtain
regulatory action, we have also contacted the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) to seek the repayment of all grants involving the baboon in
question, as well as the grants connected to other violations at SWFBR,”
said Budkie. The NIH must take swift and meaningful action against SWFBR
1. Demanding full repayment of the grant money spent during the
period of noncompliance.
2. Prohibiting the offender from ever receiving another NIH grant.
3. Revoking Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research’s Office of
Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) accreditation.
4. Investigating the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research for
further noncompliance with the Animal Welfare Act during the entire
funding period of the grant(s) in question.