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Primate Experimentation in the U. S. - The National Picture (2004 Ed.)
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The Facts About Primate Experimentation
Primate experimentation in the U.S. is out of control. The most accurate numbers available indicate that approximately 96,000 primates are imprisoned in US labs. The number of primates confined in this way has risen 42% in the last five years.
Funding for primate experimentation has also increased reaching $1.1 billion during fiscal 2002. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is responsible for most of this waste, contributing over $950 to the total. The number of primate projects funded by the NIH has increased 54.6% in the last ten years. Other government agencies funding this boondoggle include the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Defense.
Many different species of primates including macaque monkeys, squirrel monkeys, baboons, and chimpanzees are experimented on in many different ways. Macaque monkeys are used most often, with baboons second and squirrel monkeys third.
Isolation is severely stressful to primates. In fact, 10% of isolated primates are so severely stressed that they begin to engage in self-injurious behavior. Many different psychological experiments also stress primates severely.
The Primate Center at the University of Wisconsin (UW), Madison imprisons approximately 1500 primates. Documentation from this facility indicates that 54% of the macaques and 64% of the marmosets were suffering from gastro-intestinal tract disease, potentially brought on by stress. The marmoset colony at the UW had an infant mortality rate of 58%. Several primates at the UW are documented as engaging in self-mutilation.
Three marmosets were recently killed at the WNPRC when they were not removed from their cage before the cage was sanitized.
Similar conditions exist at other laboratories:
Harvard – 2100 primates imprisoned; 55% infant mortality rate; over 300 primates in solitary confinement; many exhibiting signs of pathological behavior
University of California, Davis – 4100 primates confined, 36% of the deaths tied to gastro-intestinal tract disease; 34% of the dead primates were emaciated and 20% were dehydrated; 7 primates killed in heating malfunction.
University of Oklahoma, Medical Center – 240 primates locked up; 60 primates left outside in 100 degree heat without shade or access to shelter.
University of California, San Francisco – USDA prosecution for – “Doing a craniotomy to expose a monkey's brain without administering
postoperative analgesics; over-breeding marmoset monkeys; depriving monkeys of water, resulting in severe weight loss.”
Emory University – imprisons over 3800 primates; a report from 8/23/02 discusses the death of Rhesus monkey #3566 on 4/16/02. Apparently this primate had been steadily declining since 6/01 – losing 32% of his/her body weight in this 14-month period.
University of Washington, Seattle - Internal documents obtained from the UW indicate significant problems in areas of primate care. One primate (K93464) died (9/01) as a result of ingesting a set of latex gloves. Another primate (T93497) died (1/01) after being anesthetized for a blood draw, potentially as a result of anesthetic overdose. Another primate (#93169) died (7/00) of anesthetic overdose. Two primates (A00131 & 98026) in the care of investigator CC Tsai died with “total absence of body fat stores” and “total absence of subcutaneous fat.” Dehydration is also discussed in reference to primate #98026. Primate F93276 died 6/01 is discussed as having “Malnutrition, chronic, severe” and “Dehydration, severe.”
Wake Forest – imprisons over 1000 primates; One protocol in which the primates are “head-capped” (have metallic devices attached – often by screws -- to their heads) are socially isolated
Johns Hopkins – confines over 500 primates; during 1999 Riki, a rhesus monkey, died at Johns Hopkins University. This primate had received treatment for ulcers in 1996. During 1999 Riki was found to be biting his/her stifles (area near the knee), a form of self-mutilation. On 8/27/99 Riki was found lying on his/her side at noon. Examinations showed that Riki was in shock. The only treatment given was intravenous fluids. A government report states: “The primate was allowed to suffer and die, instead of being immediately humanely euthanized when the decision was made not to administer further treatment.”
Many diseases and conditions plague the primates that are held captive within laboratories, such as: pneumonia, encephalitis, hepatitis, and gastric bloat.
Common experimental practices include depriving primates of food or water so that these things become effective rewards. In some instances, the primates may receive water for only an hour or two per day, or are deprived of as much as 20% of their regular food intake.
The use of primate restraint chairs is also common, with confinement reaching as much as 104 consecutive hours. These devices are highly stressful for normally active and mobile primates. In brain mapping experiments many devices are literally bolted onto the skulls of primates, and electrodes are fed directly into the brain. Intravenous catheters are surgically implanted in experiments with addictive drugs. These devices can lead to serious infections, and other potentially fatal conditions.
Most primates are not used in experiments that study the diseases that kill most Americans. Projects that study primate psychology, alcohol & addictive drugs, brain-mapping, and sex in primates far outnumber studies involving heart disease or cancer.
Repetition is rampant among NIH-funded projects. Currently, 188 NIH projects study neural information processing in macaque monkeys. These useless experiments waste over $56 million in federal tax dollars every year. Many of these projects continue on for decades wasting millions of tax dollars each year and victimizing primates for an entire lifetime.
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