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Articles and Reports

Primate Care at the University of South Alabama

The health and well-being of primates at the University of South Alabama (USA) has been examined utilizing post mortem records for 98 monkeys who died at USA during 2003 2004. The fiscal 2004 report filed by USA with the United States Department of Agriculture listed 728 primates used in experimentation and another 75 used for breeding or conditioning. These are either squirrel monkeys or owl monkeys. USA receives just over $1.5 million from the National Institutes of Health for all primate projects.

The records of the approximately 100 primates who died were mainly infant animals. These 74 immature monkeys died of everything from failure to thrive to skull fractures. For a facility that has breeding of monkeys as one of the primary purposes, this appears to be an excessively high infant mortality rate. The rate of stillbirths is high, and neonatal jaundice occurs often. Additionally, the level of abuse practiced upon these infants by their parents is sufficient to make us doubt their sanity. One infant, #3814, has had his hair plucked. His tail has also been traumatized.

The remaining primate records were for adult animals. These documents suggest many different pathologies. However, the most significant of these appear to be mental. From a practical point of view one area that must be looked at initially is anesthetic deaths. There were two primate deaths that involved anesthesia, or a similar circumstance. One of these animals died of aspiration pneumonia; from inhaling his/her own vomit. These instances suggest at least inattention, or at worst downright negligence. 6 of the adult deaths were marked by inanition, or extreme lack of body fat. This condition can indicate either long-term untreated illness, or severe stress. Ten of the USA primates exhibited substantial hair loss, the result of over grooming which is also considered to be the result of stress, or stereotypical behavior. This is usually associated with mental pathology and is often followed by more severe acts, such as self-injurious behavior.

Other serious issues at USA involve 8 instances of trauma, either self-induced or caused by cage mates. In either case, this behavior is also associated with stress. Several monkeys have a history of self-inflicted tail trauma. These animals have begun to attack their own bodies. Several other primates at USA have had digits amputated, due to self-inflicted injuries.

However, the most shocking of all the cases is primate 2685 who died on 12-10-04. She had developed an intussusception of the intestinal tract. This condition occurs when one part of the intestines slide up into another part, telescoping. The pain that this animal experienced must have been excruciating. She began to attack her own body, out of mental illness, to the point that she cannibalized her own intestinal tract.

Other causes of death show up in the USA primates including: gastric bloat (which is related to improper feeding) chronic anemia, chronic diarrhea, etc. In one instance the bloat led to gastric torsion which was left unmanaged until the intestinal tract became necrotic. However, the records for these animals never discuss treatment of any kind. When a condition reaches a chronic level the solution appears to be to put the animal to death.

The overall situation at USA is grim. It is quite apparent that the squirrel monkeys within this laboratory suffer for many reasons. Veterinary care appears to consist largely of euthanasia. Environmental enhancement, which is required by law, must be essentially non-existent, leading to widespread madness. Neglect, lack of observation, and inadequate care are clearly the norm.

This facility houses over 800 primates per year and receives just over $1.5 million in federal grants for primate experimentation. Considering what USA primate records reveal we must begin to wonder how this money is being spent. Additionally, since one of these projects has to do with the immune system, this project is clearly being performed utilizing primates who are so ridiculously stressed that their immune systems are simply wrecked even before any experiments begin. It is clear that this research is useless due to the drastic effects of the severe stress to which these primates have been subjected. Also, even if these animals were shipped to other laboratories for use in different projects their physiology is likely so distressed (along with their minds) that they are useless as research subjects potentially rendering many other research projects meaningless.

Our investigations of this facility will continue. In the near future we will be submitting requests for even more detailed records to allow for a truly in-depth assessment of the conditions within this facility. We would also like to use this occasion to call upon President Gordon Moulton to institute an independent investigation of primate facilities at the University of South Alabama. The veterinary care systems of this facility are in need of major restructuring and staff changes may be in order. We would also like to publicly ask for access to USA primate laboratories to allow for personal inspection of the animals and facilities. We believe that the people of Alabama and the U.S. as a whole deserve to know how their money is being spent. We have a right to ask for accountability and access. This is a public entity that should stand for openness and honesty.

National Institutes of Health Funded Primate Grants at the University of South Alabama

5P40RR001254-25 $696,365 Medicine, Veterinary Sciences
A Squirrel Monkey Breeding And Research Resource
5R24RR020052-02 $610,897 Medicine, Veterinary Sciences
Owl Monkey Breeding And Research Resource (R24)
5R24RR013200-07 $255,500 Medicine, Pharmacology
An Animal Model Of Glucocorticoid Resistance

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