An animal rights group is demanding an investigation of the University of Washington primate center for its treatment of research animals.
It’s one of dozens the group puts forward on an annual basis.
Using the Seattle-based university’s records, Ohio-based Stop Animal Exploitation Now filed a federal animal welfare complaint, citing 21 problems at the lab during the past two years, according to news reports.The records show that several monkeys escaped their cages. Some were injured, and two monkeys died following medical procedures.
A spokesman for USDA, which regulates the treatment of research animals, said that the department would consider the complaint, adding that it is too early to know if the university violated the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The UW lab houses hundreds of animals used in research. It’s the largest lab of its kind in the nation.Its primate center houses more than 700 monkeys, macaques and baboons used principally for research on AIDS vaccines and medical experiments to help understand brain function and neurological diseases.
Regardless of people’s opinions of the degree of humane handling afforded lab animals, it’s doubtful that many would forego the use of vaccines or medical procedures perfected on animals if it would save their life or that of a loved one.
The group singled out 21 incidents in UW records from 2010 to 2011, including five cases of monkeys escaping from their cages and sustaining cuts and bruises in the process.
“In the time we’ve been looking at these things, I haven’t seen another facility that had this number of primate escapes,” said Michael Budkie, SAEN’s executive director.
University records show that tips of fingers or toes of two primates were inadvertently torn off. Two other animals suffered similar injuries to their tails, requiring amputation. One monkey was found dead in its cage after having plugs implanted in its skull for a neuroscience experiments. Another monkey had to be euthanized after a surgical error, an infant monkey suffered a burn on its foot and an adult cut its hand on scissors it grabbed from an attendant.
In 2011, USDA fined the university $10,893 for allowing a monkey to starve to death and conducting unauthorized surgeries on several others.Its last two USDA inspections found no violations.
Telling the truth
Ohio-based SAEN regularly combs through the records of U.S. research centers, looking for potential violations to publicize. The organization isn’t attempting to reform medical experimentation, but it is frankly opposed to all animal research—period. On its website, SAEN’s slogan is, “Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation.”