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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Media Coverage


Primate centers under fire: Animals advocates seek Congressional inquiry

Ran in the Isthmus in Madison, WI
17 June 2004

A national coalition of animal-rights advocates is calling for a Congressional inquiry into the eight National Primate Research Centers, including the one in Madison.

"Reports filed by the facilities which comprise the primate center system reveal substantial and widespread problems," says Michael Budkie, the head of an Ohio-based group called Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!

Eight groups, including the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C., People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in Virginia, and Madison's own Alliance for Animals, have written letters to Congressional leaders seeking an investigation. Several letters call particular attention to the research center in Madison.

The center, as Isthmus reported in a recent cover story ("Inside the monkey house," 6/4/04), has about 1,400 monkeys and brings tens of millions of research dollars into Madison each year. Four kinds of primates, mostly rhesus macaques and marmosets, are used in dozens of experiments, from AIDS-related research to efforts to study the long-term effects of low-calorie diets.

A new report released by Budkie's group faults the facility for inaccurate reporting, high infant mortality rates, and evidence of high stress among the center's primates. The report is available online at www.saenonline.org  

"If what we're seeing at the UW is indicative of the conditions nationwide, this is a travesty," says Budkie, who helped orchestrate the campaign seeking a Congressional inquiry. "We're hoping to generate a groundswell that will demand these hearings." He also hopes an inquiry will bring more information to light: "At the very least, the people of this country have a right to see what's going on in these laboratories."

The letters, addressed to the leaders of Congressional subcommittees on health care, argue that much of the research being done in these centers is duplicative and unreliable. They say the animals are subjected to cruelty and neglect. And, says Lori Nitzel of the Alliance for Animals, "the amount of independent oversight at these centers is woefully inadequate."

UW primate center officials insist they are doing important research and deny there are problems with the care of animals at their facility. Even still, they seem cool to the idea of a Congressional probe.

"Anyone has a right to request a government inspection of any facility," says center spokesperson Jordana Lenon. "There are already many laws and regulations in place governing research labs. Whether this latest inquiry would result in a good use of taxpayers' money would be debatable."

--Bill Lueders

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