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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
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"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Articles and Reports

Animal care within the National Institute on Neurological Disorder and Stroke

The National Institute on Neurological Disorder and Stroke (NINDS) funded 4314 research projects in the U.S. during 2005 which are catalogued in the NIH CRISP system. 2973 (68.9%) of these projects involve animal use. 120 (2.8%) utilize primates, with the majority of these experiments being performed on either macaque monkeys or squirrel monkeys. 2556 (59%) of these studies experiment on either rats or mice. Other small animals (hamsters, guinea pigs, or rabbits) were used in 82 (1.9%) studies. Other species of animals (dogs, cats, farmed animals, frogs, etc.) are used rather sparingly comprising only 215 (5%) of the studies involving animals. Cell culture studies make up 22.7% (980) of NINDS funded research. 193 (4.5%) projects are clinical trials with humans.

When we use the most recent estimated average grant posted by the NIH of $413,000 the estimated expenditure for this area becomes $1,781,682,000. Of this amount we estimate that $1,227,849,000 is used for animal studies both intramurally and extramurally.

What do we get for this money? The usefulness of the research can clearly be based on the condition of the animals used in the research, their stress levels, and their treatment. NINDS animal treatment has been evaluated by examining post-mortem records from both the NINDS facility in Maryland as well as the NINDS primate breeding colony which is part of the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Louisiana.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and stroke maintains a breeding colony at NIRC. This breeding colony of rhesus monkeys is comprised of 131 animals. However, this breeding colony was recently enlarged to include 65 chimps, 7 squirrel monkeys, and one gibbon. According to NINDS documents these animals were “just being housed.” And apparently since there was nothing better to do with them, they were added to a monkey colony that had been created due to a purported shortage of rhesus monkeys. If these 73 animals are not being used in any real way then they should be placed in a sanctuary where they can live out their lives in peace, not housed at taxpayer expense.

Post-mortem records for 15 of the rhesus monkeys who were part of this 131 member colony until their death provide useful information. Necropsy findings of the 15 NIRC Primates included:

· 1/3 of these animals were so emaciated at their death that they had little or no body fat.

· Over 1/3 of these animals had severe gastro-intestinal tract diseases.

· Several had suffered from trauma.

· One rhesus monkey was killed by sedation.

· Another perished as a result of aspiration pneumonia.

· Another primate died of heat stroke.

Many of these deaths smack of negligence on the part of NIRC staff. It is clear that pathological conditions in these primates are allowed to continue, causing substantial suffering to the primates, until they have reached an unacceptable endpoint. It is also very disturbing that the majority of the rhesus monkeys who were necropsied were 3 years of age or less. None of these animals are over 7 years of age. This is extremely disturbing since captive rhesus monkeys can live to be as much as 35 years old.

Additionally, the record keeping associated with these animals appears to be haphazard and in some cases the symptoms do not appear to match the cause of death, or no real cause of death is delineated.

Animal care within the facilities of the NINDS itself appears to be no better. Several primates are listed as dying during or immediately following surgical procedures. This indicates that either these animals were sufficiently debilitated that surgery should have never been performed, or simple negligence during the surgical process took their lives. Primate mk0303432 apparently had no physiological problems and “The anesthetic procedure was likely associated to the death of this animal; also there was no pathological evidence of underlying disease that may have contributed to the death of this animal.” Apparently the only cause of death was negligence. Primate mk0400830, who “did not wake up after yesterdays surgery” also had “. . . no evidence of any underlying problems based on histopathology.” Primate mk0403961 died the day after a cerebral arteriogram. However, the potential negligence associated with her death is not the most outstanding part of her life. Both of her ears are missing, only stumps are left. Much of her body is devoid of hair. Several of the other primates are also listed as having substantial “alopecia” or hair loss. The abuse which cost mk040391 her ears, whether caused by herself or another is a clear sign of extreme stress. Over grooming, which leads to hair loss, also indicates severe stress. Primate mk0402956, another cynomolgus monkey (crab eating macaque of Southeast Asia), is listed with “. . . multi-focal punctate healing lesions on the legs, arms, torso, and chin.” He also has: “. . . healing excoriations over both knees.” Again, it is impossible to tell the exact cause of these injuries. But self-destructive behavior induced by the overwhelming boredom of a sterile environment is a very real possibility.

Primates at NINDS also suffer from serious diseases. Primate mk0405928 had chronic diarrhea and hepatic amyloidosis. He is listed as being emaciated. This advanced state of debilitation is indicative of inadequate veterinary care. The post-mortem record does not list any treatments or medications that were used. The full record lists aspiration pneumonia and peritonitis as additional pathological conditions. Primate mk0409840 died of gastric bloat, a condition that can be related to improper feeding or feedstuffs. Primate mk0407096 died of severe trauma including multiple puncture wounds. Again, no discussion of therapy is made. This primate, like several others are simply listed as “found dead” meaning that the staff of NINDS was unaware of any problem until this and other animals died. This clearly indicates inadequate observation of the primates.

Overall, the situation within NINDS facilities is atrocious. Negligent practices within medical procedures take animals lives on a regular basis. Primates are apparently attacked and brutalized by cagemates without the NINDS staff even being aware of the situation. The stark environment of the lab causes mental pathologies which lead to stereotypical behavior including over grooming and self and other directed aggression. One primate had no ears as a result of such aggression.

The aberrant psychological condition of these primates is sufficient to substantially alter their physiology due to stress. When combined with the negligent practices which kill primates during medical procedures, inadequate behavioral observation, and inadequate veterinary care the overall situation within NINDS facilities, and the conditions inside the NINDS colony at the NIRC lab (primate supplier to the NINDS facilities), the science of all relevant research must come into question. When experimental procedures are performed incompetently on overly stressed animals the result is to be expected, death and meaningless pseudo-science.

If all NINDS funded projects are performed this shoddily then not only are thousands of animals dying with no positive result other than keeping researchers paid, but over $1.2 million in federal tax dollars is being wasted.

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