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

Media Coverage

Group: Monkeys mistreated at VCU University denies charge by animal-rights activists on rhesus monkey research

Wednesday, Oct 15, 2008 - 12:08 AM Updated: 12:36 AM

An animal-welfare group has obtained lab records from Virginia Commonwealth University that it says document the suffering of rhesus monkeys used in research.

The Ohio-based S.A.E.N. (Stop Animal Exploitation Now) yesterday released internal VCU documents that the group said showed the monkeys are subjected to severe stress and sometimes hurt themselves as a result of conditions at the lab.

The group filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking it to investigate the welfare of the primates and the deaths of two of the monkeys.

VCU spokeswoman Pam Lepley said the animal research program strictly complies with all federal standards and has been fully accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care since 1966.

"VCU uses animals in research only when there is no other alternative to pursuing medical and scientific discovery that advances human and animal health," Lepley said by e-mail.

"When an animal is used in research, whether it is a mouse, rat or in a rare instance, a rhesus monkey, the ethical treatment of the animal is a primary responsibility."

Michael Budkie, S.A.E.N. executive director, said his group had found "disturbing information" in VCU's lab records. The records were obtained by a local activist under the Freedom of Information Act, he said.

Budkie said he had not spoken with anyone at VCU about his concerns.

"Typically, universities refuse to speak to us," he said.

He asked the Agriculture Department to investigation the deaths of two monkeys, one of which was euthanized in February after it "endured a lifetime of suffering." The other monkey died unexpectedly in December 2007 of undetermined causes.

The lab reports also showed that in November a malfunctioning system left up to seven monkeys without water for a weekend, Budkie said.

His complaint said that many of the monkeys "are so severely disturbed that they tear out their own hair," leaving one with a bald head. They also suffer from infections and from surgically implanted catheters, which they attempt to tear out, he said.

According to Budkie, the monkeys are part of a drug-addiction experiment funded through a $400,000 federal grant.

Lepley said VCU does very little non-human primate research, but some rhesus monkeys are part of drug-addiction recovery, therapy and prevention research.  

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