Group wants investigation of baboon's strangulation

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Please contact USDA to insist on a huge fine against Eastern Virginia Medical School for the negligence which caused a baboon to die of strangulation.

Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer Director
USDA, Eastern Region
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Group wants investigation of baboon's strangulation

By Elizabeth Simpson, The Virginian-Pilot, Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An animal welfare watchdog group is asking a federal agency to investigate and fine Eastern Virginia Medical School for the death of a baboon that accidentally strangled itself with a chain in a research lab in February.

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, an organization created in 1996 to stop abuse of research animals, sent a complaint and request for an investigation to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces minimum standards for animals in licensed research facilities.

The incident was self-reported by EVMS to the National Institutes of Health in February. While the baboon was not involved in a federally funded study, it was born to a mother that was, which prompted the report to the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

The juvenile male baboon strangled himself on a chain that was used to secure an "environmental enrichment" device to the cage. He was found during a routine check about eight to 10 hours after he died.

The NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare concurred with the actions the EVMS lab took in response to the accident, which included inspecting all chains, removing those that were too long and encasing all other chains in thick hosing.

Julia Orr, director of communication for the watchdog group, said the request for an investigation and a fine was filed in early August.

The organization regularly reviews reports made to NIH and issues complaints to the USDA in situations where an animal died or was seriously injured because of actions the organization believes are negligent.

She said the organization has filed 35 such complaints this year, nine of which involved primate deaths because of strangulation from devices or cage door mechanisms.

William Wasilenko, senior associate dean for research at EVMS, said in a statement Tuesday that the school abides by industry standards and has adopted more safety measures since the accident. For instance, the lab now has cages specifically for young baboons with extra safeguards that prevent entanglement in environmental enrichment toys.

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