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Articles and Reports

Prepared Statement Regarding Primates at the New Iberia Research Center

Recent media coverage of a lawsuit filed by a former employee at the New Iberia Research Center has brought information to light which brings into question the appropriateness of veterinary care and animal treatment at this facility.

In response to this incident SAEN has launched an investigation into the NIRC facility. We have requested copies of all active research protocols as well as all primate necropsy reports regarding animals who died at NIRC. We have also requested copies of all internal inspection reports for the NIRC facility.

However, we have come into possession of records relevant to one small part of the colony at NIRC. Apparently 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. We are already aware of one primate sanctuary who will take in the lone Gibbon at NIRC.

We have also come into possession of post-mortem records for 15 of the rhesus monkeys who were part of this 131 member colony until their death. 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.

While this is a small number of the total of 6000 primates housed at the New Iberia Research Center, these documents indicate sloppy and inadequate veterinary care as well as insufficient observation of these animals. Diagnoses appears to be done only post mortem, and in the documents relevant to these fifteen animals only once is any pre-mortem therapy mentioned.

We will release further information as it comes to light. We sincerely hope that the NIRC facility will comply with our document request. We believe that the public has a right to know the truth regarding the conditions within this huge facility. Though I must say that, in light of the data from this small sample of animals, I am afraid of what we will find.

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