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Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Death, Disease & Insanity: Health and Well-Being of Primates at New England National Primate Research Center/Harvard
By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director, SAEN
513-575-5517 [email protected]  

Primate Life & Death at NENPRC

The NENPRC houses rhesus monkeys, cynomolgus monkeys, marmosets, aotus monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and cotton-top tamarins. The overall colony size began the year at 1705 primates and ended the year at 1749. Essentially, the size of the colony did not change in any meaningful way.

The colony of cotton-top tamarins did not change in size. 22 tamarins were born, and 22 died. The center started the year with 1062 rhesus macaques, there were 92 live births, 127 died in experimentation, 17 died of natural causes, and 48 came to the center from outside sources – resulting in an ending population of 1056. 8 aotus monkeys began the year at the center one died during experimentation, leaving 7 at the end of the year. 60 squirrel monkeys started the year at the center. 12 were added to the population from outside sources, 15 died during experimentation, leaving 57 at the end of the year.

Similar trends existed in other species at the center, population tables are attached to this report as appendices.

Potentially the most significant finding came in the marmoset colony. 323 marmosets started the year at NENPRC. 5 marmosets were born during the year. 222 more marmosets were brought in from outside sources. 15 marmosets died during experimentation. However, 148 died of disease or other non-experimental causes. The majority of these deaths from disease came in the experimental colony of marmosets. This colony began the year with only 145 with 39 being added during the year. 15 died during experimentation and another 144 died of disease, leaving only 16 at the end of the year. In other words, 80% of this colony died of disease during the year. This is an outrageous level of death from disease, and must draw the veterinary care at the NENPRC into question.

Overall, 417 primates died at the center during the last reporting year, or approximately 1 out of every 5. At least, the pathology section of the report lists 417 post mortem workups (necropsies) being done on center primates. This may be cause for concern because the colony tables list only 368 deaths. This is a discrepancy of 49 primates.

The successful birth rate at the NENPRC is also a cause for concern. The progress report lists 119 live births. The report also lists post mortem workups on 144 neonatal/aborted primates, which could indicate an infant mortality rate of 55%. This information can be broken down further. 5 marmosets, 92 rhesus macaques, and 22 tamarins were born. However, the same report lists post mortem reports for 17 rhesus macaques, 47 tamarins, and 80 marmosets – all in the neonatal/abortion category. These statistics may indicate a very high rate of abortions/stillbirths. This could be the source of the 49 primate discrepancy listed above. There may have been 49 naturally occurring abortions at the primate center. If this is the case then there were 168 total pregnancies at the center. All that can be said for certain is that young primates do not survive at NENPRC.

The bacteriological lab at NENPRC diagnosed the presence of many very pathogenic bacteria within the primates. Staphylococcus bacteria was isolated 233 times from center primates. Other pathogenic bacteria were also isolated: E. coli – 318, and Streptococcus was isolated 238 times. As many as 45% of the center’s final population could have been positive for one of these pathogenic bacteria.

Go on to Psychological Well-being of NENPRC Primates
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Rats, mice, birds, amphibians and other animals have been excluded from coverage by the Animal Welfare Act. Therefore research facility reports do not include these animals. As a result of this situation, a blank report, or one with few animals listed, does not mean that a facility has not performed experiments on non-reportable animals. A blank form does mean that the facility in question has not used covered animals (primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs, sheep, goats, etc.). Rats and mice alone are believed to comprise over 90% of the animals used in experimentation. Therefore the majority of animals used at research facilities are not even counted.

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