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Glimpses (Life and Death inside the University of Louisiana, New Iberia Research Center)
By Michael Budkie

Research laboratories are secretive places. The doors are locked tight, as much to keep the public out as to keep the animals in. Most of the population of the United States lives in blissful ignorance, not knowing or caring about what happens in the laboratories that are paid for by their tax dollars. It is much easier to simply not know than to deal with the truth. Even though the doors are closed, and the widows locked, occasionally the truth sneaks out. It comes in little snatches, small pictures, and tiny glimpses. Even the tiny glimpses are horrible.

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The New Iberia Research Center of the University of Louisiana (Lafayette - ULL) is one such place. Very little is known about the inner workings of this facility, except that it is huge. For the year 2006 ULL/NIRC reported the use of 6489 primates, most of whom were part of breeding programs, not actual experimentation. Only a few primates step out of the mists to allow us to look into their lives.

Chimpanzee A155E was born on January 1, 1983. By November 9, 2007 he is dead. In between those dates his life appears to have little uniqueness, one day is about the same as another. The only notations we see are for dosages of Fibercon, a dietary fiber pill being given to handle gastric issues.

When he dies A155E is described as being “thin and there is apparent muscle atrophy” and “the abdomen is distended.” Additionally, the necropsy further states several things which indicate very serious pathological conditions that have gone untreated.

The necropsy report describes approximately 2 liters of fluid in the abdomen, as well as a cardiac abnormality. The report also mentions “a large abscessed area (20 cm diam) adherent to the body wall.” This mass is described as containing “a greenish purulent material” and a “necrotic center.”

However, from May 23, 2005 through the death of this primate in November of 2007, the only treatment that this chimpanzee received was fiber tablets. His condition was likely unnoticed because he was only one of over 6000 primates.
Chimpanzee A096 was born in January of 1963.

Other than the date of birth, the available NIRC records provide nothing between 1963 and 1990. Decades have disappeared into oblivion. From 1990 to 2006 little is known about this chimp other than weights and CBC values. He had been part of a study that ended in 1992.

He died in August of 2006 just after a vasectomy on the 24th of August. On the 26th of August he is listed as having swollen testicles, and is D.O.A. on the 28th.

The only treatment that this animal received during this period was Motrin, and the cause of death is left open. However, it is apparent that he had serious heart issues due to the 500 ml of yellowish fluid in the pericardial sac, a situation which can be connected to cardiac tamponade. A vasectomy is an elective surgery and likely should not have been performed in a chimpanzee with a serious heart condition.

Chimpanzee A272 was born in January of 1968, spending 38 years in laboratory settings until dying of gastric bloat in November of 2006. Bloat is a condition that can be related to improper diet and is extremely painful. Additionally, his records do not list any treatment for this condition; it was discovered only at death.

Rhesus monkey A4P001 was born in captivity in April of 2004, surviving only until November of 2006, just over two years. He is diagnosed at death with toxemia (blood poisoning) and 6-7 cm of gastric (jejunal) intussusception (blockage, possibly torsion). The veterinary records state that “Approximately 3cm of involved gut was necrosing” (dying). In other words, over 2 ½ inches of the small intestine was blocked and over an inch of this tissue had died. This monkey had not seen a veterinarian for 5 months.

Rhesus monkey A4PO15 was born in captivity in July of 2004, and died in August of 2006. She was admitted on the day before death and is described as “thin, dehydrated, poor sparse hair coat” and “blood found oozing from the rectum.” This monkey received a physical exam on June 19, 2006 and received no treatment of any kind in the intervening period. She had suffered from a similar condition two years earlier. She was allowed to deteriorate, receiving no treatment of any kind in the intervening period.

Rhesus monkey A4P010 came into the world on June 22, 2004. During his short life he suffered through several bouts of enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine) with serious diarrhea. He was diagnosed with this condition again in the days before his death. He was allowed to deteriorate to the point of developing a septicemia, a life-threatening infection. Rhesus monkey A3P012 was also diagnosed with chronic non-responsive diarrhea.

Two infant primates, A7P001 and A7P003 are listed as dying due to maternal neglect and/or maternal trauma. In other words these infants died of injuries caused by attacks by their mother. A7P001 is described as having “multiple wounds and bruising to: arms, legs, tail, face and a large (nickel sized) hole in skin covering head with skull exposed.” The mental state necessary to cause a mother to abuse her offspring so violently is incomprehensible.

Over 69,000 nonhuman primates suffered in experimentation in the U.S. during 2007, and an almost equivalent number languished in seemingly endless captivity for the purpose of producing more victims for the knife. We will never know anything about most of these innocents whose only ‘crime’ was to not be born human.

As non-humans they are allowed no freedom. They live in stainless steel boxes or fenced corrals that resemble the exercise yards of human prisons. They have been reduced to mass produced commodities whose sole purpose is monetary – rhesus monkeys often sell for over $5000 each – and they are the raw materials used to attract research grants or contracts in six or seven figures – the University of Louisiana receives over $6 million per year in federal money for the maintenance of these 6000 victims.

As a whole these relatives of ours are hidden from view. Their lives are unknown, their deaths unmourned. They pass through the world as shadows robbed of everything but the capacity to feel pain. Most of us choose not to see, for the pictures are too uncomfortable; and as long as we ignore them we can tell ourselves that they really don’t exist.

These primates live and die in anonymity. But every now and then we are forced to look. Sometimes we see the truth, unpleasant as it is, and we are changed. Facts have a price, truth holds a debt, and reality has an unavoidable claim on us. Once we see the truth we must either act or admit that we don’t care – and both of those options have ominous consequences.

Glimpses can change your life forever...


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