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Articles and Reports

Cheri Stevens Statement: California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC)

Inhumane Treatments of Primates

Some days, when my daily tasks were complete I would find myself wandering into therapeutics to see if I could be of assistance. On one particular day there was an infant monkey with some serious health problems in a cage without his mother, looking quite terrified. He was malnourished, with severe liquid stool and was not eating. I decided to show this animal some affection to see how he would respond. I had been warned that he was aggressive, but knew that I sometimes had a way with these animals that no one else did and so I decided to give it a try before giving up. It appeared that everyone else had given up on him.

I reached into the cage and “introduced myself.” It took little convincing and in no time the animal warmed up to me. I was able to get him to drink the liquid therapeutics provided and got him to eat a little of the rice cereal and grapes in his cage. He grew more and more comfortable with me and eventually even let me hold him. I stayed through lunch to care for him and he seemed to be coming around. I left the animal for some time to feed the other animals I was responsible for that day, and quickly returned to his cage when I was finished. I carefully bundled the animal in a towel and removed him from his cage. I took a seat on a stool and just held him close. The animal became so comfortable that he fell asleep on my chest for what I was told was the first time since he had been in therapeutics.

The time for me to go home was quickly approaching and I was having trouble with the idea of leaving him. I thought about staying, but for how long? I could not move in. I had to go home some time. Finally around 4:15 I decided I had done all that I could and certainly more than anyone else. He already was showing signs of improvement so I placed him back in his cage, still sleeping and went home for my two days off.

The following day I made a few calls to therapeutics to check on the infant primate but was not able to reach anyone and no one returned my phone calls. When I returned to work I found out that the very next day, my first day off, they decided to euthanize him. I was told that there was nothing that they could do for him so they euthanized him. I could not believe it. I had done so much for him that resulted in so little. I have felt guilty for so long because when I left I knew that no one would take the time to help him eat, drink, or even make him feel secure. But I know now that it was not my fault that the primate did not make it. It is the fault of the CNPRC for the ideas that they silently instill. To them the infant primate was just an animal beneath them, just a number that could be replaced this year or the next. To me he is one of many reasons to stand up against the evils of animal exploitation.

It is of my opinion that the diet offered to the primates at the CNPRC is inhumane. Animals are offered four to eight monkey chow biscuits, depending on their species and sex, and whether or not a female is pregnant or nursing. Twice a week the animals are offered fresh produce which could be something like a half an apple or a carrot. Once a week the animals were offered vitamins, I believed that policy may have been changed to twice a week since I left. The point that I would like to make on this subject is that in one fiscal year the primates can earn around 80 million dollars through research grants for the University of California at Davis. Are the primates receiving the best diet possible that could be offered to them? Eight million dollars can buy a lot of fresh produce that simply is not being bought because it is not a priority for the University's researchers.

Due to repeated disagreements between co-workers on the Technical Crew, a managerial decision was made to discontinue performing the dental scaling procedure during preventative health round-ups. I expressed concern to those on the technical crew that I believed animals in my care were in dire need of dental care. The plaque build-up on the primates' teeth would undoubtedly lead to more severe issues. And it was visible from the outside of the cages just by looking in.

The official reason I was given for the discontinuance of treatment was that the crew was awaiting a training document to be provided by Training Coordinator to offer a consistent procedure to avoid further conflict. It is my experience from having worked on this crew that there was always something to argue about. However it is inhumane to deny the animals this treatment because they need it to avoid abscesses, and it is wrong to deny this treatment simply over a disagreement between co-workers.

Under CNPRC’s SOP animals are not to be anesthetized until they are a specified minimum weight in order to perform preventative health measures such as TB testing in primates’ eyelids, initial tattooing and touch-ups as well as shaving around tattooed area to allow expedient identification of animals, dental scaling, and trimming of fingernails and toenails. Primates were being tattooed and TB tested regardless of the fact that they were too young or too small (under age and weight requirements) to be anesthetized, thus doing so inhumanely and against the University's own protocols.

On one occasion I witnessed an infant primate being restrained past the point of consciousness which he regained in therapeutics with a little physical stimulation to the body. After this incident I reported my concerns to a resident veterinarian who had the authority to change the policy or at least get employees to adhere to those policies already set in place.

Unfortunately I did not witness any changes before I left the CNPRC.

Corners are repeatedly cut during the cage sanitizing and changing processes. A step most commonly cut during the in-place sanitization process was to leave animals in cages during the acid wash step, rather than removing them by transfer box as stated policy in CNPRC’s SOP. Every employee is trained on the dangers of these chemicals and staff must wear protective clothing to avoid serious injury to ourselves, so I am not sure why anyone would decide that this was a humane corner to cut.

One particular incident resulted in the severe chemical burning of several male Rhesus Macaques housed in an all-male room located in the “Speed Space” area of the CNPRC. Animals were placed in in-patient care with therapeutics to allow constant access in treating these flesh-bearing chemical burns. Animals received burns to their fingers, hands, arms, legs and faces.

There are specific guidelines to be followed when addressing whether or not a primate is living in a cage that provides adequate living space. This is determined by the weight and not the sex of the animal. On several occasions it was determined by weighting out rooms that many females were too large for the cages they were living in. On more than one occasion I compiled a list of such animals and reported it to "enrichment," who is responsible for all animal moves that are made for reasons other than experimental.

I was told, more often than not, that there were not cages available for them, and at most maybe they could have two smaller cages. I won't say that it never happened, but I cannot recall a single incident where an animal was moved due to living in a cage that was insufficient to its body weight. I would also like to add that there were several instances when juveniles were being housed with their mothers in a single cage even after they were big enough to need their own cages. This is more common with the larger of the Macaque species housed at CNPRC, the Rhesus Macaque, due to the restrictions being based on body weight.

Animals often went without enrichment things that were due to them simply because there just was not enough necessary things to go around all of the time. I was always scrounging for mirrors and toys for the animals and their cages. There was never enough produce for all of the animals to have a little extra, but there was sometimes a little extra for infants, nursing and expecting females, or the larger males that required a larger diet due to body size. The primates' natural need for activity was subdued by showing videos brought to their rooms on transportable televisions, however not on a daily basis. There were only enough televisions to be rotated throughout the entire center, which was done on a daily basis. I could not say whether or not the animals even enjoyed watching nature on the television.

If an animal had not been eating a sufficient amount of chow to maintain its body weight, this was reported to therapeutics. Once an animal lost a sufficient amount of weight, therapeutics would then place the animal on a special diet of soaked chow, rice cereal, and fresh produce on a daily basis.

It came to my attention, in the wing that I worked in at least, that there were around ten animals or so that just were not eating a sufficient amount of chow every day. At the end of the day more chow was being pulled from their cages than was being eaten. I compiled a list of these animals and reported it to my supervisor to get permission to put these animals on the special poor appetite diet because I was concerned for their health.

I was denied the right to offer these diets and told that it was therapeutics’ job to do the evaluations and set up the diets. I was told that they were working on it. None of the animals on the list ever received a special diet from therapeutics before I resigned. I offered them what I could undercover but it was not as sufficient as it could have been if I had been granted the permission to care for the primates I was assigned to care for.

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Inhumane Experimental Procedures
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Cheri Stevens Statement: California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC)
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