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

Media Coverage

Animal rights group decries UCD primate practices

Former primate center employee says she witnessed abuse

By: Talia Kennedy
The California Aggie
Issue date: 10/12/06 Section: Campus News

A former employee of the California National Primate Research Center came forward yesterday claiming she witnessed veterinarians malnourish, euthanize and deny medical care to monkeys, including pregnant and nursing primates, at the on-campus research facility.

Cheri Stevens, who began working at the center in 2002 but voluntarily resigned in 2005, spoke on behalf of the animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now at a press conference at Howard Johnson Inn at 4100 Chiles Road in South Davis yesterday.

Stevens said the monkeys being housed at UC Davis are not receiving satisfactory care.

"On one occasion I witnessed an infant primate being restrained past the point of consciousness," she said in a statement. "One particular incident resulted in the severe chemical burning of several male Rhesus Macaques .? Animals received burns to their fingers, hands, arms, legs and faces."

Stevens said she recalled an incident in which an infant monkey she felt particularly attached to was euthanized.

"I was told there was nothing they could do for him so they euthanized him," she said. "I could not believe it."

SAEN's founder and executive director Michael Budkie said his organization held the conference, which is part of the group's events for the Oct. 7 through 15 National Primate Liberation Week, because "we had information specific to UC Davis, including documentary evidence and eyewitnesses."

"We're here and we're here for a reason," he said.

According to its website, SAEN aims to "expose the truth to wipe out animal experimentation." Budkie said he challenges those who disagree with his organization's stance to study the facts.

"Read the evidence we present," he said. "We worked very hard not to make unfounded charges."

Budkie said he requested a meeting with Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef to discuss Stevens' malpractice claims, but didn't receive a response.

"There are no plans for UC Davis representatives to meet with this group," said UC Davis spokesperson Andy Fell in an e-mail. "SAEN is dedicated to ending all research involving animals, and we do not believe that discussions with this group would be fruitful."

Established in 1962, the primate center employs a staff of 300 and spans hundreds of acres on the western edge of campus. Recent research projects, which serve to provide solutions to human health problems, have focused on AIDS and other infectious diseases, reproductive and prenatal issues, brain malignancies, nutritional deficiencies, pulmonary disorders, stress, social behavior and more, according to its website. Worldwide, experiments conducted on animals have led to the development of the polio vaccine, insulin and human organ transplantation, among others.

SAEN's claims are not the first to plague the primate center, which houses about 4,700 primates.

In May, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals named UC Davis the fourth worst university offender in its laboratory treatment of animal subjects. In August 2004, seven adult monkeys in the university's care died when a mechanical failure caused the room they were housed in to overheat, reaching temperatures upward of 115 degrees. After determining that UC Davis was in violation of federal regulations governing animal care, the U.S. Department of Agriculture fined the university $4,815 as a civil penalty for the incident.

Fell said the university denies SAEN's claims of abuse.

"The group's latest allegations appear similar to those made in previous years; none has been found to be correct," he said.

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