Another primate death prompts call for sanctions against UL by animal rights group

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Another primate death prompts call for sanctions against UL by animal rights group

From, Friday, August 30, 2013

University says animal died in 'freak accident'

Another primate has died at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s research center in New Iberia, prompting an animal rights group to call on the federal government to lodge penalties of up to $30,000 against the university.

The death of the rhesus macaque on July 2 was the fourth death of a primate at the New Iberia Research Center in the past two years. Three rhesus macaques died in May 2011 after becoming trapped in a chute that connected two outdoor cages.

The university paid a $38,571 penalty to the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this year over the deaths of the three primates and another unrelated incident at the research center.

The latest death was one of three incidents this year cited in a report by the USDA after a routine inspection on Aug. 6-7. The report says the female rhesus macaque died after getting her hand trapped in the cage between a metal conduit and what is described in the report as the “corn crib portion” of the enclosure. The other incidents cited involved the escape on Jan. 19 of five capuchin monkeys, who removed a substandard latch clip from their enclosure door, and the injury of another rhesus macaque, who broke her own arm after it became trapped in the enclosure on March 29.

The incidents brought demands from the nonprofit Stop Animal Exploitation Now organization that the USDA assess the maximum penalty of $10,000 per incident against UL.

“The demonstrates that the University of Louisiana, Lafayette continues to have inadequate observation of animals,” according to a letter from SAEN Executive Director Michael A. Budkie to Dr. Robert Gibbens, director of the USDA’s Western Region in Fort Collins, Colo. “This situation has not been remedied since the unnecessary deaths of 3 primates in 2011. Despite the fact that this lab was fined, it is quite apparent that no meaningful changes have been made.”

The university responded with a written statement late Thursday afternoon that described the incident as “freak accident” and noted that the five monkeys that escaped were able to go no farther than the room in which their enclosures were housed.

The incidents were self-reported to the government, and corrections were made before the inspection was conducted in August. The USDA report notes that corrective measures had been made in all three incidents.

“Everything was corrected immediately,” said Dr. Joe Simmons, director of the New Iberia center, according to the UL statement.

Simmons said the death was an “unusual incident that has occurred only once in 30 years,” according to the statement. The actual cause of death of the monkey was not specified in either the USDA report or the UL statement.  

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