Protesters: Primate research wastes money, lives

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Please contact Dr. Gibbens and demand that he take immediate action against the University of California, Davis, for all violations of the animal Welfare Act. Be sure to insist on severe penalties because negligence at this lab has killed numerous primates and caused others to suffer horribly.

Dr. Robert Gibbens
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Please contact University of California, Davis, Chancellor – Linda P.B. Katehi -- directly and demand that she initiate an independent investigation (including involvement by representatives of the Animal Advocacy Community) of the California Primate Research Center, and that they begin retiring animals to sanctuaries (including providing funding) instead of just killing them.
Linda P.B. Katehi, Chancellor,
Offices of the Chancellor and Provost
Fifth floor, Mrak Hall
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 752-2065
[email protected]

Protesters: Primate research wastes money, lives

By Cory Golden,, Friday, July 20, 2012

About a dozen people, some sporting monkey masks, protested outside the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis on Thursday, accusing researchers of negligence in the death of animals there.

The protest was one in a series — the “Open the Cages Tour” — sponsored by the Ohio-based group Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, which has repeatedly accused the center of mistreating monkeys, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture reports and what the animal-rights group says is information from a UCD whistleblower.

In a complaint filed with the USDA, which last inspected the center in November, SAEN cited 14 instances of animals with self-inflicted injuries in their medical history or post-mortem records between February 2010 and October 2011.

Through a spokesman, the university denied any wrongdoing.

“Animals housed at the California National Primate Research Center receive the best veterinary care, and the research program is strictly regulated by law,” UCD spokesman Andy Fell wrote in an email message. “The faculty and staff who work with animals are committed to high quality care and animal welfare.”

SAEN’s latest complaint against the center spotlights a 2-year-old Rhesus macaque monkey that died of dehydration. Records obtained by SAEN through public records requests show the monkey suffered diarrhea repeatedly in spring 2011 before dying in June.

SAEN notes that the animal’s condition was listed as “greatly improved” on June 7, but the report adds that it had diarrhea and was receiving intravenous fluids. It later died, but when isn’t clear.

In a June 23 necropsy ruling dehydration as the likely cause of death, it describes the monkey as “markedly thin and severely dehydrated” and “infested with maggots,” a condition SAEN says shows that the animal was not adequately observed.

Another example: a 1-year-old macaque was later found dead in its cage with the bungee cord from a sun screen wrapped around its neck and a perch. The necropsy did not settle on a cause of death. Under the Animal Welfare Act, enclosures must be constructed so that they “protect the nonhuman primates from injury.”

Fell declined to address specific allegations because those instances may be the subject of further investigation. He said that UCD reported the death in October. The USDA last inspected the facility in November.

Since 2008, according to UCD, federal inspectors have visited the center 20 times, issuing four citations, one each for: incomplete documentation of antibiotic treatments, the medical record of one animal not being available during inspection, inadequate records for one animal and for changing a protocol without prior approval by the campus’ Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

The USDA last fined the center in 2005, after an incident the year before in which a faulty room heater killed six monkeys, Fell said. A seventh was later euthanized.

Protester Mike Xvx of Portland said he hoped people who live around facilities like UCD’s 300-acre center, located about two miles west of the main UCD campus, will learn what’s going on inside and push for research done without animal models.

“I don’t think any information can be gained from animal models,” he said. Drugs created from animal testing have “hurt more people than they’ve ever helped. It’s a waste of taxpayer money, it’s a waste of knowledge and a waste of life.”

Animal testing continues “primarily out of tradition,” Xvx said, “and because of the money for the researchers and the university.”

Fell said that research at the center has included the testing of tenofovir, an ingredient in Truvada. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the pill this week as a way to prevent HIV infection.

Other research at the center targets asthma, autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

The center houses about 5,000 primates, about 3,000 of them outside in 24 half-acre corrals. It employs about 400 people, operating on a federally funded budget of about $10 million annually and about $24 million per year in outside funding generated by its researchers. A new 20,000-square-foot respiratory diseases center is due to open there next year.

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