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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
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Media Coverage

Group: Probe animals’ deaths

Published/Last Modified on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 2:08 PM CST

A national animal research watchdog group has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, demanding an investigation into the deaths of nine primates at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center.

Michael Budkie, executive director of the Ohio-based group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, stated in a letter to the USDA that documents obtained by the watchdog group show “clear violations” of the Animal Welfare Act that requires research facilities to give adequate care of its animals.

“NIRC is ignoring these primates and allowing them to die from undiagnosed and inadequately treated conditions,” Budkie said in a release. “According to government records, NIRC receives over $6.1 million per year for the maintenance of these primates, they should at least receive adequate care.” Johnny Hardcastle, head of animal resources at NIRC, said the center does not know of any investigation pertaining to its animals.

“At such time that we receive information of an investigation, we will cooperate fully with the USDA,” Hardcastle said.

NIRC operates on a 100-acre site near the Acadiana Regional Airport with 24 buildings and more than 485,000 square feet.

Its mission, according to its Web site, is “to specialize in the breeding, management, and importation of a diverse range of nonhuman primate species.”

NIRC’s director was not in town on Tuesday, and did not return a phone call made Wednesday morning before press time.

Records show that the day before its death, one of the rhesus monkeys at the center was described as “thin, dehydrated, poor sparse hair coat” and “blood found oozing from the rectum,” Budkie said in his letter to the USDA.

Similar conditions occurred in the monkey two years earlier, but the monkey reportedly received no treatment between examinations, Budkie said. Budkie said because of its condition, the monkey should have been monitored more closely.

“Instead, this animal was allowed to deteriorate ... in the intervening period of over two years,” Budkie said.

Budkie listed several other medical conditions diagnosed at the time of the monkeys’ deaths, including a large abscess, a blood infection and bloating, a condition that Budkie said is often fatal for monkeys.

One chimpanzee that died in August 2006 reportedly had a vasectomy on Aug. 24, 2006. Two days later, it was documented that the chimpanzee had swollen testicles and was treated with Motrin, with the cause of death left open, Budkie said in the letter.

Budkie said the chimpanzee, however, had a “serious” heart condition determined by the yellowish fluid documented after its death, adding that a vasectomy should not have been done to a chimpanzee with a heart condition.

“I find the attitude of callousness and negligence to be nothing less than shocking,” Budkie said in his letter to the USDA. “I request you initiate action to levy the most substantial fine allowable and suspend projects that involve repeat violations.”

A phone call to the USDA communications office was not returned as of press time Wednesday morning.   

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