Contact Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region USDA/APHIS/A
2150 Center Ave. Building B
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against the University of Texas, Medical Branch, Galveston, for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their ineptitude allowed a monkey to escape and be seriously injured, resulting in euthanasia. UTMB Negligence also killed many other animals including monkeys, guinea pigs, etc. Their utter disregard for the animals and the Animal Welfare Act CANNOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Please levy the maximum fine allowable under the Animal Welfare Act.
Complaint: Escaped monkey was killed at
By Marissa Barnett, The Daily News, November 1, 2016
Researchers euthanized a monkey after it escaped from its cage at the Galveston National Laboratory and fractured its leg, leading to a complaint against the facility.
In a complaint filed Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Michael Budkie, executive director of animal-rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, accuses the institution of violating the federal Animal Welfare Act by improperly handling animals.
A nonhuman primate escaped its enclosure Sept. 24 and fractured a leg before being caught by researchers and euthanized, University of Texas Medical Branch spokesman Raul Reyes said.
Research into some of the world’s most lethal diseases is conducted at the national laboratory. The medical branch could not confirm before deadline whether the monkey had been infected with a disease before it escaped.
The escape happened on a Saturday and researchers reported it to an internal oversight committee and the federal agencies. Lab officials are drafting a formal report about how the incident happened, which will be submitted to federal agencies, he said. Researchers followed proper protocols for reporting the incident, he said.
The incident was likely the result of staff error, because the medical branch conducted staff training of proper methods to close cages after the escape, Budkie wrote in his complaint, citing information from an unidentified whistleblower. The monkey did not leave the lab, Budkie said.
The latest incident, along with other ongoing investigations, is reason to be alarmed, Budkie asserts.
“If they can’t do the basic things like properly closing a cage, it casts doubt on everything else,” Budkie said.
The medical branch insists it treats its animals and research with care.
“We always treat our research animals with the utmost care, compassion and as humanely as possible,” Reyes said.
The Galveston National Laboratory is still under investigation by the agriculture department, which enforces the Animal Welfare Act, for earlier monkey deaths.
A scathing audit conducted by agencies of the National Institutes of Health reported to observe “serious animal welfare issues” in research performed by the laboratory in its study of the Marburg virus, which is related to Ebola and causes hemorrhagic fevers marked by severe bleeding, organ failure and, in many cases, death. It was published in February 2015.
The confidential audit report listed 11 “critical observations,” any one of which could “affect the validity or integrity of a study and/or the acceptability of a contract research organization,” according to audit documents.
The report also listed 58 “major” and 20 “minor” observations.
The audit panned the laboratory for leaving 12 macaque monkeys unattended for up to 18 hours while infected with the deadly disease. Eight of the monkeys were found dead, the audit said.
The agriculture department launched an investigation following the audit, and federal regulators have met with medical branch officials about suggested practices.
The lab has since implemented new practices aimed at addressing flaws found in the report and during site visits, although the investigation is ongoing, medical branch officials said.
The laboratory first made changes to protocols for studies using nonhuman primates. It has since made changes to protocols for guinea pigs and rabbits, although those were not in place at the time of the Ebola study, medical branch officials said earlier this year.
The medical branch has made provisions to allow nighttime monitoring of infected animals. The laboratory also is working with federal granting agencies to get more money for the changes, officials have said.
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