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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Articles and Reports

Government Propaganda Misleading the American People Concerning Primate Experimentation
By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director, SAEN

II. Primate Statistics

One of the most basic questions which must be answered when dealing with the use of primates in experimentation is "How many?" In other words, how many primates are used in laboratories every year?

For fiscal 2001 the USDA reported this number to be approximately 49,000. However, since this report was originally posted to the website of the USDA it has been proven to be erroneous. Communications with the USDA have proven that this total was inaccurate due to late reporting, and data entry errors. In a previously issued report (The Reporting of Animal Experimentation in the U.S.: Errors, Lies, and Contradictions available at http://www.all-creatures.org/saen/articles.html ), this author has documented discrepancies within government documentation which substantiate an error in this 2001 total as high as 12,880 primates, or 26%.

This (previous) report also documents substantial reporting errors by the primate centers themselves. One example will suffice. During fiscal 1998 the New England Primate Center (NEPRC) reported use (breeding and experimental) of over 1800 primates. However, for this same year Harvard, the facility that is the recipient of the grant that funds the NEPRC, reported only 330 primates used (breeding and conditioning) to the USDA.

It appears that the agency (USDA) charged with enforcing the AWA as it pertains to primates (and all other animals) may not even be able to correctly count the animals it is charged to protect. Additionally, the facilities, which are required by law to report to this agency, appear to be prone to filing false, or at least inaccurate reports with the USDA, and this misreporting seems to have no repercussions.

The most recent statistics available from the USDA, those published for 2002 indicate a much higher number of animals in laboratories. These statistics, which are themselves incomplete (due to several facilities having not filed reports with the USDA), indicate that 52,279 primates are experimented on in the U.S., and another 43,676 are kept in laboratories for breeding and conditioning purposes. This puts the current U.S. laboratory primate population at 95,955. This figure almost doubles the statistics publicized by the USDA for 2001. While this number is closer to the truth, it may still be conservative.

In statements made to media, officials (i.e. Dr. Jerry Robinson) with the Primate Research Center system of the NIH have said that 2000 primates are used in NIH funded AIDS research, and that this number exceeds the primate production capacity of the primate center system by 200 (implying that the primate center system can only produce 1800 rhesus monkeys per year). This is grossly inaccurate.

Progress reports filed by the eight Primate Research Centers for fiscal 2000 show that the Centers had live births totaling 2487 new macaque monkeys.

Facility Rhesus Births
Tulane 673
UC Davis 636
Oregon 331
UW Seattle 213
Wisconsin 80
Yerkes 425
Harvard 129
Total 2487

The fiscal 2000 progress reports filed by the Primate Centers also disclose some other disturbing contradictions. These contradictions are related to the number of animals dying at the Primate Centers. Information on primate deaths shows up in two separate areas of these reports. The colony statistics sections of these reports disclose overall primate numbers. They reveal starting populations, births, experimental deaths, transfers, deaths, and final populations. Then in the operational sections of the reports the facilities discuss the work of the pathology departments of each Primate Center. These pathology departments perform necropsy reports on the primates that die at the Primate Centers. In many cases the pathology departments are reporting the performance of necropsies on more primates than are reported as dying. These contradictions exist within the progress reports themselves.

One example should serve to explain the numbers below. For Fiscal 2000 the Yerkes Primate Center reported 428 primate deaths in the colony statistics portion of the progress report. The pathology department section of the same report disclosed the necropsy of 463 primates, with 2 having been done for primates from outside sources. This leaves 461 necropsies done on Yerkes primates. This is a discrepancy of 33 primate deaths.

Facility Reported deaths Necropsies Discrepancy
Yerkes 428 463 2 = 461  33
UC Davis 527 628 101
Southwest 460 728 268
Oregon 344 401 57
Wisconsin 192 205 13
Totals 1951 2423 472

Several of the Primate Centers have very substantial discrepancies in the area of primate deaths. The Southwest Primate Center in particular necropsied 268 more animals than supposedly died at the Center. The facility at UC Davis also necropsied 101 more primates than died at the Center. Overall, the Primate Centers have not accounted for the deaths of 472 primates that their pathology departments necropsied. This is a very disturbing situation. We must begin to wonder if the Primate Centers are deliberately under-reporting the numbers of animals that have died within their facilities.

Go on to III. Violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Primate Laboratories
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