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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


Is there another way to look at the population of primates in laboratories and the dealers that supply them? When the USDA/APHIS inspects a laboratory the census of animals present at the lab is entered into the LARIS (Licensing and Registration Information System) database. This report will use 2004 LARIS data (see Appendix B) to examine the current population of primates in laboratories. However, this database is not complete because every lab is not inspected every year. Another source of data is the 2001 Primate Housing Survey, also performed by the USDA. Many facilities appeared in the Housing Survey that did not appear in LARIS data, and visa versa. These facilities, unmentioned in 2004 statistics, were included in the overall census by using the 2001 Housing Survey data. A few major facilities appeared in neither of these sources. Approximations of the population of these facilities were developed based on annual reports filed with the USDA in 2001.

Utilizing this approach it was possible to estimate how many primates are in U.S. non-federal laboratories on a daily basis. The data used for this approximation covered 225 laboratories and totals approximately 72,000. This is not an annual total including both primates housed for breeding and primates used in actual experiments. This is simply a statistic totaling how many primates happened to be present in the covered facilities when the inspector toured the laboratory. This is not an annual total.

Again, we must make allowances for the federal agencies for whom we have statistics, namely the NIH and the DOD. As listed above, these entities provide another (approximately) 7000 for the NIH and 1300 for the DOD.

And yet, this is still not the entire picture. While many primates are bred in laboratories, dealers sell many others to laboratories. Some of these dealers are also registered as research facilities. If these facilities listed identical inventories for both the dealer and laboratory entities, the statistics were only included once in this report. If the inventories differed, the different numbers were used in their appropriate categories. Animal dealers accounted for approximately 9000 primates held captive for use in or sale to laboratories. This dealer approximation covered 13 major dealers (see Appendix B).

Now, this brings our total to approximately 89,000 primates in laboratories and the animal dealers that supply these labs. This is likely a very conservative number. There are several federal agencies currently utilizing primates in experimentation which have not been discussed. No statistics were available for the Department of Energy, NASA, the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Disease Control, and several other agencies. These facilities would likely add several thousand more primates to the total were numbers available. If we are to have some semblance of the size of this issue, it would be safe to say that roughly 90,000 primates are confined in U.S. laboratories and the dealers that sell to them on any given day.

These two sets of statistics from the USDA, 2004 LARIS statistics and 2001 Primate Housing Survey, had many laboratories in common. In fact, 109 laboratories were listed in both documents. So, a comparison was done on these 109 laboratories to determine if a trend was obvious for this relatively short period for 2001 2004 (3 years). The 2001 population of these facilities was 43,104 primates. The 2004 census was 48,183. This is an increase of 5509 primates or 13% in only three years (See Appendix C). This is yet another indication that the number of primates in laboratories has increased.

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