Protesters highlight monkey deaths, escape

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Protesters highlight monkey deaths, escape

By Cory Golden,, Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A small group protested on Sunday outside the California National Primate Center on the UC Davis campus, decrying what they said were instances of research animal neglect.
Michael Budkie, executive director of the Ohio-based group Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, said that 2012 UCD documents detail two instances of preventable monkey deaths:
* A 6-month-old monkey that was checked on at about 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. was found dead a short while later, at midday, strangled by a toy another animal also was playing with.
* A juvenile monkey managed to unlatch a mechanism that trapped itself in a part of its cage. It was found dead in the morning.
The rights group also highlighted a Dec. 17, 2011, evening incident, when about 50 rhesus monkeys escaped after breaking hinges on a field corral. Because it was growing dark, staff members opted to keep watch over the animals rather than try to recapture them, according to a UCD document.
In the morning, some monkeys were successfully herded back inside. Thirty-six were darted, checked by a veterinarian, then returned to the enclosure. None of the animals left the 300-acre property, which is ringed with high fences and security cameras and located about two miles west of the main campus.
“What this tells me is that we’re dealing with a lab that is not adequately observing the animals,” Budkie said. “If they can’t keep the animals alive, let alone keep them in cages, why should we believe they’re capable of doing science?”
SAEN has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, charging that the incidents show violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The center houses about 5,000 animals, most of them rhesus macaques. According to a statement from UCD, the animals are checked twice daily.
“Even with outstanding care, all facilities that raise animals have mortality rates,” the statement read. “The (Primate Center’s) rate is comparable to or better than other similar facilities and zoos.
“The center is taking the extra step of investing in research that aims to further reduce mortality, especially among monkeys living in large groups outdoors.”
UCD added that it follows National Institutes of Health guidelines and is accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care.  In June, the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare commended the university for its animal care.
In February, the USDA cited the Primate Center for failure to provide adequate care in the deaths of 19 monkeys during 2009 and 2010. The citation did not carry a fine. The USDA last fined the center in 2005.
The center did have a notable escape in 2003, when a female rhesus macaque got out of a cage during a routine cleaning and when through a drain pipe. She was never found.
Research at the center has included studies related to HIV/AIDS, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma and lung disease. 

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