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

Media Coverage

Internal documents point to primate abuse at Emory

From Creative Loafing -- an alternative newspaper in Atlanta with a circulation of 140,000


Internal documents obtained and released last week by a Cincinnati-based animal advocate group show that Emory University and its Yerkes National Primate Research Center might have violated the federal Animal Welfare Act, resulting in the death of a rhesus monkey.

A Yerkes spokesperson said the group's findings "aren't accurate."

Stop Animal Exploitation Now released a study Oct. 5 on animal abuse at institutions nationwide, including Emory. The report documents social isolation and lack of food and water, which caused primates to become anorexic and go bald from over-grooming, a product of stress, says Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN.

"Taking care of primates isn't [Yerkes'] first priority," Budkie says. "Researchers only care about getting money into the university and don't care what happens to the primates."

The study alleges that an Emory investigation into the 2002 death of a rhesus monkey revealed a failure to monitor and treat the monkey as specified in protocol, even after staff warned that the monkey appeared ill.

Lisa Newbern, a Yerkes spokeswoman, says the death didn't take place at Yerkes but in a separate Emory lab. "The information Budkie released is several years old," Newbern adds. "People at Yerkes are giving the absolute best care to animals. The better care for our animals, the more valid are our scientific results."

But the SAEN report points out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture found Yerkes animals living in cages the size of a large television, sharp objects that could injure the primates within their reach, and several lethargic and balding primates.

Yerkes, which holds more than 3,000 primates -- over 70 percent of the state's lab primates -- has received $100 million in funding, primarily from the National Institutes of Health.

Budkie says a large problem at Emory and nationwide is lack of lab monitoring. He claims USDA at best visits a lab once a year and can fine up to $2,000 for a code violation. But the agency does nothing more, because most of the primate labs are registered with, but not licensed by, the federal government.

"Labs consider paying the fines part of the business," Budkie says. "When they're getting millions of dollars, a couple thousand is nothing for them, especially when they know they can't get a license revoked."


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