New Iberia primate research center again cited by USDA

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New Iberia primate research center again cited by USDA

By Marsha Sills,, Thursday, September 5, 2013

LAFAYETTE — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center has been cited for three violations of the Animal Welfare Act in the death of a rhesus macaque, the fractured arm of another rhesus macaque, and the temporary escape of five capuchin monkeys.

The research center had self-reported the incidents. The center already corrected the issues prior to USDA inspectors’ arrival, according to an Aug. 6 inspection report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The university doesn’t expect to be fined by the USDA.

“Everything was corrected immediately,” Joe Simmons, NIRC director, said in a news release.

Even so, Michael Budkie, executive director of the group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, has filed a complaint with the federal agency asking that the research center receive the maximum $10,000 penalty for each violation.

The incidents illustrate that meaningful changes have not been made at the research center following the 2011 deaths of three primates, Budkie wrote in a letter to the USDA.

In May 2011, the badly decomposed remains of three rhesus monkeys had been discovered in the chute of an outdoor cage. The USDA cited the center for failure to make daily observations of its animals, and the university paid a penalty of $38,571 earlier this year for that incident.

The most recent of the three new incidents occurred in July when a female rhesus macaque was injured and died after its left hand was caught in an enclosure. The incident was a freak accident that has occurred only once in 30 years, university officials said. Brackets were installed on cages to prevent a repeat occurrence, Simmons said.

In January, five capuchin monkeys escaped after removing a latch clip that secured their enclosure.

They didn’t get far. They were contained inside a room.

“To reach outdoors, the monkeys would have had to have opened and passed through three sets of doors in the building where they are kept,” the university’s news release says.

Nevertheless, latch clips aren’t an effective way to secure enclosures, inspectors wrote in the USDA report.

An incident in March involved an adult female rhesus macaque housed with its infant. When a caretaker attempted to take the infant’s temperature with the help of a squeeze mechanism, the mother’s arm became entrapped between the mechanism and an enclosure door.

The adult macaque “forcibly removed her arm and subsequently fractured it,” the report says, noting that the animal received “immediate and appropriate veterinary care.”

The university said the rhesus macaque broke its own arm — and the injury was detected the next day when the arm began to swell.

The Animal Welfare Act requires that animals be handled “as expeditiously and carefully as possible” to prevent “trauma, overheating, excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm or unnecessary discomfort,” the inspection report notes. 

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