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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
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"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Articles and Reports

The Primate Experimentation Scandal, 2005: An Investigative Report
By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director, SAEN

How Many Primates Are in Labs??

It is difficult to provide an exact number regarding the number of primates that are confined in laboratories and other facilities as a result of their use in experimentation. The United States Department of Agriculture publishes statistics regarding the use of animals in experimentation every year. However, these statistics suffer from several limitations.

Published USDA Data

In recent years the USDA statistics have been changed, or more accurately, the way that they are computed has changed. Before 2001 statistics for animal use in federal facilities were included in the overall national totals. However beginning in 2002 animal use for federal facilities was omitted. Therefore, to provide an actual comparison of truly relevant numbers (2004 versus 1995) the older statistics must be separated out so that only non-federal facilities are included. Additionally, the reporting methods of several facilities in Louisiana were extremely inconsistent for several years. Many primates who were only confined and not experimented on had been reported as actually used in experimentation. Some adjustments were made to allow for these inconsistencies.

When the USDA statistics are now examined a very clear pattern emerges (see Appendix A). In 1995 the national non-federal primate use in experimentation was 44,257. The 2004 experimentation figure for primates as reported by the USDA is 54,998. This is an increase of 10,741 (24%) primates in a ten-year period. This pattern is both significant and disturbing. While the USDA does not track the majority of animals used in experimentation due to the exclusion of rats, mice and birds from the Animal Welfare Act, many other species are tracked. And as these other species are totaled an overall statistic is developed as a national total for the use of (regulated) animals in laboratories. The downward trend of these numbers for the use of regulated animals in experimentation within non-federal facilities is also shown in Appendix A. It is very significant that while overall regulated animal experimentation is slowly decreasing, primate experimentation is increasing.

This number is extremely limited for two reasons. The first limitation on this statistic is the non-inclusion of federally owned facilities. The Department of Defense owns several dozen research facilities and reported the use of approximately 1,300 primates during fiscal 2001. Another major hole in this statistic is the National Institutes of Health facility in Maryland. This facility reported approximately 6927 primates used in 2000, of these 1989 were housed for breeding and 4938 were actually experimented on.

There is another difficulty in examining primate experimentation based solely on the basis of the reported statistics from the USDA annual report. The USDA report specifically excludes many animals who are in laboratories. For example, in fiscal 2002 for the first and only time, the USDA reported both animals used in experimentation and animals held for conditioning or breeding in laboratories. While 52,275 primates were actually experimented on another 43,676 were held in laboratories for conditioning or breeding. Many facilities maintain a significant number of primates in breeding colonies, and these animals were excluded from the statistics currently reported for animals used in experimentation. The statistics for primates who were housed and not used in experimentation have since been removed from the USDA website.

If we use the 54,998 2004 USDA statistic for primates experimented on in U.S. non-federal labs we can approximate the number of primates housed in labs for breeding/conditioning based upon the proportion from 2002. This would propose another 45,951 primates housed in non-federal labs for breeding/conditioning, making our total 100,949. Now we add in the 6,927 primates from the NIH and the 1,300 from the DOD our total becomes 109,176. If we make an allowance for the other federal agencies that utilize primates, as well as the 9,000 primates coming into labs from dealers (see below) then an annual total can easily reach 120,000.

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