Harvard fined after primate deaths at Southborough research center

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Harvard fined after primate deaths at Southborough research center

From MetroWestDailyNews.com, Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SOUTHBOROUGH — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has fined Harvard Medical School $24,036 for violations of the Animal Welfare Act at the university's Southborough primate research facility, the department announced today.

According to an announcement from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the fine was levied as a result of 11 violations from February 2011 to July 2012.

Meanwhile, an animal rights group that has frequently protested the center and criticized its operations called the fine "paltry" and said the punishment should have been far more severe.

The USDA, in a citation and penalty notification document, outlines a series of infractions, including four primate deaths, three incidents where monkeys escaped from their enclosures and other violations involving injuries and negligence.

Officials at the New England Primate Research Center, on Pinehill Road in Southborough, announced in April 2012 that the center would close within 12 to 24 months after university officials decided not to renew the federal grant that helps pay for the center's operation.

A press release issued by animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW argued that the fines from the USDA should have been steeper.

According to the release, the USDA could have fined Harvard up to $10,000 for each of the 11 listed violations.

"The USDA has literally let Harvard get away with murder," Executive Director Michael Budkie said in a press release. "The fine levied by the USDA is less than 1/4 of the potential penalty. This is a true miscarriage of justice."

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