Thank you for launching an investigation into the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against University of Wisconsin, Madison, for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their ineptitude carelessly killed and injured dozens of monkeys. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
UW-Madison's Primate Research Facility
By Hunter Szenz, WKOW.com, September 19, 2016
MADISON (WKOW) -- Monkeys being used for research has been a long-lasting debate, especially when things go wrong.
27 News obtained inspection reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that prove things did indeed go wrong at UW-Madison's Primate Research Center.
In 2015, inspectors found 12 incidents where nonhuman primates escaped from their pens, according to one report. An inspector explained how nine of the escapees managed to do so because of human error. The other three monkeys escaped due to their enclosures malfunctioning.
As a result, many of the primates were hurt after getting into "uncontrolled interactions" with other monkeys. Some of them suffered from cuts and even lost portions of their tongues, according to the inspector, requiring surgery.
It's not the first time the research lab has been investigated. In 2014, UW-Madison was forced to pay upwards of $35,000 due to similar incidents that occurred between 2007 and 2013.
"We care very deeply for our animals, but we also care about human health and scientific discoveries," Allyson Bennett explained. She's the faculty director of the UW-Madison animal program and a psychology professor who uses some of the monkeys for research as well.
She admitted that mistakes happened.
"On occasion we do make mistakes. It's a large and complex program and like any large and complex human endeavor, there are occasionally errors," Bennett said.
The research facility houses some 2,000 monkeys. Even with the high inventory, Bennett says monkeys account for a small amount of research.
"Monkeys in research are less than half of one percent of all animals [used in research]," she explained. "In the U.S. about 95% of research is with rats and mice."
At UW-Madison, researches also use pigs, sheep, fish, and other animals.
The monkeys are used for researching things like the Zika virus and Parkinson's disease. Bennett says it's a balancing act between scientific discovery and animal welfare. If something goes wrong, she says there is a caring staff to respond.
"If they require clinical treatment, a veterinarian looks at those
animals and makes sure that they receive clinical treatment and recover,"
She believes the current review system works.
"We investigate, we make corrections if we need to, we report it to the federal agencies and we strive to do better and to reduce adverse events," she said.
In separate incident reports, the research center is also under investigation for a ferret that died after her head got caught in a cage. Another report says an expired antibiotic was also found in a bat housing facility.
27 News reached out to the USDA for more information about the reports. They declined to comment citing the ongoing investigation.
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