UC Davis, cited for treatment of research monkey, loses appeal

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By Laurel Rosenhall
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Published: Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011 - 12:00 am

The federal government has cited UC Davis for using a monkey in research studies despite evidence that it was in poor health.

The monkey had gastrointestinal problems, vomited frequently, was losing hair on its arms and legs and had a wound on its genitals.

After the monkey had been used in three studies, UC Davis veterinarians questioned whether it was well enough to be used for more research, the report states. The lab decided to place the monkey in a fourth study, the report says, "despite the progressive worsening of medical and behavior problems that lead to unnecessary discomfort, distress and pain to that animal."

The report also cites UC Davis for inadequately documenting the monkey's veterinary care. The monkey was euthanized in September 2008.

The report was made public last week after the federal government denied an appeal by UC Davis, which argued that the monkey was in good enough shape to be used in the studies.

"Our institution does not consider this combined research usage excessive for an animal that was (about) six years old," says the letter of appeal written by UC Davis veterinarian Victor Lukas.

The government's report is based on a November 2009 inspection of records at the California National Primate Research Center, a UC Davis lab that houses 6,000 monkeys used in research on malaria, HIV, asthma, allergies, Alzheimer's and autism.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected records related to the monkey's care upon request by an animal rights organization that reviewed the monkey's death report.

"It was very clear that this animal had gone through what was a horrible life," said Michael Budkie, an Ohio activist who opposes the use of animals in scientific research.

UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell said the university is appealing the government's findings a second time.

"All animals at the primate center receive regular health checks and they receive excellent care," Fell said. "Animal research is well regulated by federal law. We think we do it humanely, and it produces useful insight into human and animal medicine."

See also... University of California, Davis

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