Animal activist group raises concerns after monkeys die at UL's New Iberia site
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

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Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA-APHIS
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Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against University of Louisiana, Lafayette, for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their negligence caused 3 monkeys to die, possibly by heat stroke. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

 

Animal activist group raises concerns after monkeys die at UL's New Iberia site

From Ashley White, Daily Advertiser, January 27, 2021

An animal rights group is raising concerns after three monkeys apparently died from heatstroke at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's New Iberia Research Center.

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, said in a news release it filed the complaint last week with the U.S. Department of Agriculture after obtaining a report outlining the monkeys' deaths that was sent from the New Iberia Research Center's director to the director of the Division of Policy and Education at the National Institutes of Health.

A spokesperson for the USDA said it could not confirm receipt of the complaint.

"The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and its staff is diligent in the care it provides non-human primates at the New Iberia Research Center," said university spokesperson Eric Maron in an emailed statement. "The center follows rules and guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies."
"The Department of Health and Human Servicesí Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, has determined that these precautionary actions were appropriate and timely," he added.

Several breeding groups of rhesus macaques, which originated from Alice, Texas, were transferred to outdoor housing after completing onboarding isolation procedures, the center's director, Francois Villinger, said in a letter to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Laboratory Welfare, Maron said.

They were transferred outside between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9:10 a.m. on Aug. 5. The temperatures were "comfortable for that time of year" and was 80-83 degrees outside, Villinger wrote.

"Animals were observed for 1-2.5 hours, showing no evidence of undue aggressive behavior with a plan to recheck them in the early afternoon," he wrote.

The center had sprinklers/misters set up and provided frozen fruit juice to offset the heat as part of its standard procedures, according to the letter.

At 12:30 p.m., three monkeys were found dead. The necropsy and pathology reports "strongly suggest heat stroke," Villinger wrote.

"Prior social groups had been established from this colony during similar environmental conditions without incident or concern," he wrote, "and thus, the Center staff could not have anticipated these deaths..."

The center reported the deaths to the National Institutes of Health on Aug. 26, Maron said.

Since the monkeys' deaths the center has installed wading pools and sprinklers before creating social breeding groups during hot weather to provide cooling measures for the monkeys while extending the behavioral observations time, Maron said. The center also identified indoor/outdoor housing that can be used during the summer to establish social groups with the indoor portions being air-conditioned.

In the complaint provided in a news release, SAEN Executive Director Michael Budkie claims the monkeys' deaths violate the federal Animal Welfare Act. He asked the FDA to launch an investigation and issue the maximum fine against the university.

"Failure to protect these animals from temperature extremes is sheer negligence," he wrote in the complaint.

Budkie alleged in the complaint that temperatures reached 93 degrees the day the monkeys died.

The university has been fined in the past by the USDA after investigations into the research center. In 2013, the university paid a $38,571 penalty over the deaths of three primates and another unrelated incident.

In 2010, the center agreed to pay $18,000 as part of a settlement after the Humane Society of the United States released undercover video footage that it said constituted inhumane and improper treatment of animals.

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