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

Media Coverage

Investigate UL primate center

January 31, 2009

Stop Animal Exploitation Now, an animal-rights watchdog group headquartered in Ohio, has levied strong charges against UL Lafayette's New Iberia Research Center, claiming mistreatment of animals there. SAEN has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the center and "initiate action to levy the most substantial fine allowable and suspend projects which involve repeat violations."

Michael Budkie, SAEN's executive director, has written to the agriculture department, saying, "I find the attitude of callousness and negligence at NIRC to be nothing less than shocking."

Adding to the seriousness of the SAEN charges are claims that they came from the New Iberia facility's own internal records.

The SAEN report includes allegations that nine primates have died at the facility in recent years and that others may be suffering from serious undiagnosed illnesses.

Budkie wrote that one chimpanzee that died in 2007 had received nothing but fiber tablets since 2005, despite the fact that muscle atrophy, a distended abdomen, fluid in the abdomen and a heart problem were found when the animal died.

SAEN charges that a chimpanzee that reportedly died in 2006 had undergone a vasectomy only a few days before, despite reports of a heart condition. Gastric bloat, often related to an improper diet, was detected in an examination after the animal died. Budkie's letter to the USDA claims four monkeys died of medical conditions left untreated.

Johnny Hardcastle, head of animal resources at the research center, pledged cooperation if notified of a USDA investigation. He and other UL officials should not wait for a formal presentation of charges before launching their own investigation. The allegations are too strong.

This is not the first time charges have been made. An investigation was launched in 1998, but did not reveal evidence of abuse at the center or confirm that animals were suffering great pain. When such charges are raised, however, the university should start an in-depth investigation immediately.

Using animals to advance medical science is reprehensible in the eyes of many animal rights activists. It is not a pleasant reality for the rest of us. We support it only because of the absence of alternatives. Much research is impossible without the use of live creatures.

Had animal-rights activists prevailed through the years, we might still be living with the terror of infectious diseases. Polio would be a dark and constant threat. Onslaughts of smallpox, diphtheria and cholera would cause mass tragedy. Whooping cough would be a major killer.

We urge a thorough investigation by university and primate center officials. If the SAEN charges are validated, the university must act quickly and firmly to assure that any improper treatment at the center is halted.   

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