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Press Releases

  San Antonio lab dissects Baboon while still alive, federal documents reveal; National watchdog group to disclose details at Monday briefing  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 8, 2008
Contact: Michael Budkie
513-575-5517

Attention: Daybook/News Desk

San Antonio lab dissects Baboon while still alive, federal documents reveal; National watchdog group to disclose details at Monday briefing

SAN ANTONIO, TX – A male research Baboon was dissected here – while he was still alive – according to recently obtained federal inspection reports of Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SWFBR) in San Antonio, according to a national watchdog organization that monitors research laboratories.

Details of the gruesome discovery will be disclosed at a major news conference here MONDAY (Feb. 11) at 10:15 a.m. at the St. Anthony Hotel/Coronado Room (300 East Travis St.)

SAEN, an Ohio-based non-profit group, said it is flying its executive director to the news briefing to outline the 2007 government reports, which contain more than a dozen violations of the Animal Welfare Act by SWFBR staff. Several of the violations were incurred in an incident when a male baboon was dissected while still living.

The USDA chastises SWFBR staff: “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.”

"The Southwest Foundation has a blatant disregard for federal law and animal lives," said Michael Budkie, A.H.T., SAEN's Executive Director. "This laboratory should be severely penalized by both the USDA and the NIH."

SAEN, and San Antonio-based Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc. have filed official complaints against SWFBR with both the U.S. Dept of Agriculture/Animal & Plant Inspection Service as well as the National Institutes of Health. The USDA complaint demands immediate enforcement actions (i.e. fines) against SWFBR and the NIH complaint seeks refunding of all grants relevant to the use of the baboon.

"These blatant violations of the AWA and regulations warrant a thorough investigation and immediate suspension of these protocols. Penalties should be assessed and an incident like this should never be allowed to happen again at any registered facility,” said Don Elroy, Advocacy and Education Coordinator for Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation.

This incident at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research is the latest in a long series of incidents at the labs, which make up the National Primate Research Center System. Harvard was recently issued an official warning for violations of the AWA including an incident where a primate strangulated on a piece of plastic tubing. The University of California (Davis) was the subject of intense scrutiny when a former caretaker made allegations of abuse, following an incident where a heating malfunction killed seven primates. The University of Wisconsin has been fined for killing marmosets in a cage washer and has had dozens of AWA violations since. In 2007, Emory University, home of the Yerkes Primate Center, paid a USDA fine for serious AWA violations.

-30-

Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research
Prepared Statement
Inspection Reports

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