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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

III. Violations of the Animal Welfare Act at Primate Laboratories

A spokesperson for the primate research industry, Dr. Joseph Kemnitz, director of the National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said in a Boston Globe article of 8/9/03 "researchers follow stringent ethical guidelines and cannot help caring about the monkeys." This would imply that researchers within the primate research centers in particular, and primate labs in general, treat animals well and do not violate the Animal Welfare Act. Is this true?

It is difficult to ascertain the totality of the situation regarding AWA violations in all primate laboratories. However, it is significant to note that USDA statistics reveal 227 separate violations of the requirements for providing environmental enhancement for primates. Many of these violations took place in research facilities, though it is impossible to say exactly how many. Additionally, other information from recently obtained internal USDA documentation reveals that as much as 35% of the primates housed in laboratories experience some level of social isolation. This is particularly worrisome for primates because it is generally accepted that approximately 10% of the primates who are socially isolated are sufficiently stressed as to engage in self-injurious behavior. (1, 2) When this statistic is applied to the total (95,955) primates held in laboratories for 2002, we find that 3358 primates who are currently imprisoned in U.S. laboratories may have been driven mad by isolation.

Specific laboratories that use primates in experimentation reveal a pattern of abuse and neglect carried out by well-known laboratories across the United States. The laboratories surveyed include three of the National Primate Research Centers, and several other labs. A survey of recent USDA inspection reports for 12 laboratories has revealed these violations:

Northwestern University

Inspection reports from USDA visits to Northwestern University dated 6/11/02 indicate violations within areas including veterinary care, IACUC, and personnel qualifications. Within these documents the deaths of several primates are discussed. Primate 8D4 died within ˝ hour of the completion of a marathon 9-hour surgical procedure. Other investigators at Northwestern had completed similar procedures in half the time. Another primate, 9K2, is said to have died as a result of water deprivation. Apparently this primate was involved in a procedure wherein the animal’s water intake was severely limited. At the same time the automatic watering system for a set of 4 monkeys, one of which was primate 9K2, was malfunctioning. This caused 9K2 to be water deprived even at times when water was supposed to be available, leading to death. The other three primates in this quad are also said to have been "very thirsty" when they finally received water.

University of Pennsylvania

USDA inspection reports from 6/20/02 indicate violations in the area of environmental enhancement for primates. Several examples are illustrative: "Two single housed rhesus in IHGT are exhibiting stereotypic behaviors but are receiving no additional special enrichment. These are rhesus 94B106 who is stress pacing and AC3H who is very aggressive and exhibiting saluting behaviors."

University of Pittsburgh

USDA documents from an inspection dated 9/3/02 discuss a violation regarding environmental enhancement for primates. The report discusses seven primates who are individually housed, and one specific primate who was exhibiting stereotypical behavior.

On 1/22/03 the University of Pittsburgh Plumborough Primate facility was cited for the use of expired drugs, inadequate care of primates recovering from anesthesia, inadequate storage of primate food, and unnecessary isolation of primates. On 3/4/03 this same facility was again cited for the use of expired drugs. Inadequate (too small) primary enclosures for primates was another violation on this date.

Johns Hopkins University

USDA reports from inspections on 6/24/02 reveal violations in many areas. The IACUC is cited for inadequate justification of the use of baboons and squirrel monkeys in drug studies.

Environmental Enhancement is also an issue at this facility because "Over half of the nonhuman primates are singly housed. . . . A baboon was housed alone with no other nonhuman primate contact and minimum enrichment at Asthma and Allergy. The baboon was acting distressed, pacing in circles."

Emory University (Home of the Yerkes Primate Research Center)

USDA inspection reports dated 3/18/03 discuss violations in the areas of IACUCs for improper internal inspections, and Housing facilities for non-human primates. A report from 8/23/02 discusses the death of Rhesus monkey #3566 on 4/16/02. Apparently this primate had been steadily declining since 6/01 – losing 32% of his/her body weight in this 14-month period. This primate had received multiple MPTP treatments over a 6-month period. The primate received treatment for clinical problems on 3/16 & 3/31. Health concerns were again raised on 4/14. However, the researchers did not observe the primate on this day, and were unavailable for contact from the veterinary staff. Husbandry staff didn’t report the animal’s anorexic condition until 4/15 – when the animal was found with no evident heartbeat or respiration, and hypothermia. The primate was revived, but was found dead the next morning.

Another incident at Emory described in the USDA report involves an " . . . anorexic, barely mobile, syringe-fed monkey that had been living in a sleep study cubicle for ‘several days’ following multiple, systemic MPTP injections."

The USDA inspector concludes the report with this comment: "Recent incidents described herein demonstrate (a) lack (of) timely communications between investigators/husbandry staff and the attending veterinarian, one of which resulted in an animal death."

Other inspection reports (from 3/30/00) list deficiencies in space requirements, environmental enrichment, and veterinary care. In relation to the Environmental enrichment violations the inspector makes an interesting statement: " . . . although a significant percentage of the macaques at the Yerkes Field Station are partially or entirely bald, this condition has not been noted as not normal, accessed for the extent of the condition, nor possible reasons or solutions investigated. The baldness appears to be due to overgrooming, and may indicate a need for the opportunity to express other normal behaviors (climbing, exploring) more frequently."

Duke University

USDA documents regarding inspections at Duke University performed on 9/17/02 indicate problems with the Environmental Enrichment program for primates. One specific owl monkey is noted as exhibiting symptoms of psychological distress. These symptoms include: self-clasping, poor haircoat, and depression. These violations follow a previous inspection (8/21/01) which also listed violations in the area of environmental enrichment.

Yale University

USDA documentation for routine inspections of Yale University dated 9/3/02 cites inadequate veterinary care for the use of outdated drugs (oxytetracycline and penicillin). Three nonhuman primates (94-37, 00-38 and 00-39) are exhibiting signs of distress as a result of insufficient environmental enhancement. However, the most significant violation on this date is the fact that several primates were without water at the time of inspection. The inspection of 9/6/01 also showed a primate which indicated signs of psychological distress.

Harvard University (Home of the New England Primate Research Center)

Government documents for 1/22/01 reveal violations in the areas of IACUCs, veterinary care, housing, and environmental enrichment. Several primates were recovering from anesthesia without posting of their condition or observation. Several primates are noted with substantial hair loss (a potential sign of stress), and another primate is showing evidence of a bloody nose. Primate #210-99 – "exhibits hair loss, crouching type behavior, and pattern type movements around cage. No evidence in records that any behavioral abnormalities were noted." Information from other sources (i.e. a report filed by Harvard with the NIH) indicates that there are hundreds (457 in fiscal 2000) of primates at the New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC --affiliated with Harvard) that exhibit sufficiently aberrant behavior as to be used in studies of self-injurious behavior.

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Health care for primates within laboratories can also be assessed on the basis of post-mortem records for a representative group of primates from a large laboratory. An examination of recent post-mortem reports from 215 primates that died from May of 2000 – August of 2001 reveals significant findings. Diseases such as hepatitis, pneumonia, and amyloidosis were all common. However, the most common pathological conditions affected the gastro-intestinal tract. Enteritis, colitis, and peritonitis affected many of the primates at the UW, Madison. In fact, enteritis/colitis affected 1/3 of all primates that died during this period at the colony. It is quite apparent that these primates are very significantly stressed by the conditions in which they are kept and the experiments that are performed on them. The stressed conditions in which these primates live have had other consequences. For example, 16.7% of the neonatal/infant primates who died at the UW, Madison were victims of cannibalism.

University of Washington, Seattle (Home of the Washington Primate Research Center)

USDA inspection reports for the University of Washington, Seattle (UW) reveal multiple violations for 4/1/03. Expired food was being given to cats and guinea pigs. Water was being denied to rabbits in the Comparative Medicine Building. The watering system had been disconnected for a period of 48 hours without being noticed by the animal care staff.

Internal documents obtained from the UW indicate significant problems in areas of primate care. One primate (K93464) died (9/01) as a result of ingesting a set of latex gloves. Another primate (T93497) died (1/01) after being anesthetized for a blood draw, potentially as a result of anesthetic overdose. Another primate (#93169) died (7/00) of anesthetic overdose. Two primates (A00131 & 98026) in the care of investigator CC Tsai died with "total absence of body fat stores" and "total absence of subcutaneous fat." Dehydration is also discussed in reference to primate #98026. Primate F93276 died 6/01 is discussed as having "Malnutrition, chronic, severe" and "Dehydration, severe."

McLean Hospital (Affiliated with Harvard)

USDA documents for inspections performed at McLean Hospital on 2/2/00 list many problems in the area of Veterinary Care and IACUCs relative to primates. Drugs that had expired as much as 2 years and 10 months before the inspection were still in use. Primates (#261-85 and #258-90) have "excessive generalized hair loss" and the records for these primates do not indicate that this has even been noticed. Primate #91-94 is "limping and holding left leg up." Again, this health issue is not even mentioned in the records for this primate. There are violations regarding the IACUC which refer to a project which deprives primates of food.

By December 5, 2000 other expired drugs have piled up at McLean Hospital, and the condition of primates #261-85 and #258-90 have still not been noticed. And primate 91-94 now is " . . . still holding leg up and observations of foot at time of this inspection showed curled up appearance (disuse atrophy?)." Another primate, #347 also has unidentified health care issues.

University of California, San Francisco

Inspection reports for the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) beginning in September of 2000 reveal a continuing pattern of animal abuse and neglect. On September 27 & 28 USDA/APHIS officials performed an inspection of UCSF labs as a result of a complaint which was filed against the facility. Their inspections found that the complaint was "basically valid." The complaint centered around experimentation on primates which denied them sufficient food and water. Violations in areas of IACUC, Personnel Qualifications, Veterinary care ("Monkey #17562was identified as not being a good candidate for a water restriction study, due to a chronic diarrhea problem, according to veterinary statements in the animal’s medical record. The records did not indicate a resolution of the chronic diarrhea [a water loss problem], yet this animal remained assigned to the protocol and was placed on a long-term water restriction schedule in October 1999. The animal was also noted as thin and not gaining weight as early as July 13, 1999, yet no medical attention was provided for this problem until August, 2000."), Handling, and Feeding. The inspector concludes the report with a very damning statement: "In my professional judgment, the nutritional requirements of these animals were not met for either food or water."

On 5/17 – 25/01 UCSF is cited for IACUC violations for performing survival surgery on an animal that was sick, and for inappropriately monitoring a research protocol that involved confining primates to restraint chairs for a period of up to 8 hours, and improper use of post-operative analgesics. UCSF is also cited for inadequate veterinary care of sheep at this time.

On 7/30/01 UCSF is again inspected as a result of a complaint. The complaint was apparently filed because a primate had been ill and vomiting for approximately 5 weeks. This primate was also involved in a training protocol that involved water restriction.

On 1/28/02 the UCSF IACUC is again cited for ineffective monitoring of experimental procedures. Specifically, the primate water restriction project is mentioned again. Insufficient means of monitoring the weight loss of primates, and the endpoint necessary for the advent of veterinary involvement are deemed to be insufficient. The lab is also cited for inappropriate feed storage, primary enclosures, sanitation, and inappropriate waste disposal.

On 8/5/02 UCSF is again cited for IACUC violations for investigators not following experimental protocols, insufficient administration of analgesics, insufficient consideration given to potentially painful & stressful procedures (in primates), and inadequate veterinary care. The veterinary care incident involved a marmoset that had been allowed to loose 36% of his/her body weight without receiving any treatment. Violations in sanitation and cleaning are again mentioned.

On 2/4/03 UCSF is again cited for IACUC violations regarding post-surgical monitoring of primates and inadequate use of analgesics. These violations involve projects where holes were bored into the skulls of primates. The facility is also cited for falsification of animal records, and inadequate sanitation.

In summary it is safe to conclude that many, if not most, primate labs routinely violate the Animal Welfare Act as it applies to primates. Therefore, the health of these animals is severely compromised (even causing death), and rendering the experimentation in which these animals were used, suspect.


1. Macy JD Jr, Beattie TA, Morganstern SE, Arnstern AF. Use of Guanfacine to Control Self-Injurious Behavior in Two Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta) and one Baboon (Papio anubis) Comp Med 2000 Aug; 50(4):419 – 25.

2. Novak MA, Kinsey JH, Jorgensen MJ, Hazen TJ. Effects of Puzzle Feeders on Pathological Behavior in Individually Housed Rhesus Monkeys Am J Primatol 1998; 46(3):213-27.

Go on to IV. Duplication in Research Wasting the Lives of Primates, and Tax Dollars
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