Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

Bucknell declines to comment on animal cruelty allegations


Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA-APHIS
[email protected] 
[email protected] 

Please launch a full investigation of baboon abuse at Bucknell University. Research administration convicted an animal caretaker of failure to follow established IACUC procedures.

The abuse which led to the termination of this caretaker must be prosecuted!!


Bucknell declines to comment on animal cruelty allegations

From Jim Diehl and Kevin Mertz, The Standard Journal, August 1, 2023

LEWISBURG — Bucknell University is not commenting on a report issued by a national organization focused on animal exploitation which alleges a university employee who worked with primates on campus was fired following an investigation into animal welfare concerns.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) — an Ohio-based group focused on animal exploitation at U.S. research facilities — announced Tuesday it has filed a federal complaint with Dr. Robert Gibbens. He is the director of Animal Welfare Operations, USDA/APHIS/AC.

The complaint urges a full investigation of Bucknell, as well as the maximum federal penalty of $12,722 per infraction/per animal for all discovered violations.

“Bucknell does not discuss personnel matters,” Mike Ferlazzo, the university’s director of Media Relations/Communications, wrote in an email. “The university has not been notified about any USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) charges.”

Michael Budkie, SAEN executive director, provided The Standard-Journal with the copy of a letter dated May 29, which he claims was filed by the university with the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He said SAEN obtained the letter through the NIH.

The Standard-Journal has not yet been able to independently verify the authenticity of the letter, which appears to be signed by the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Chair Dr. Mark Haussmann.

"NIH does not discuss deliberations related to individual recipient institutions, awards or support investigators, whether or not such deliverations are underway or have occurred," Elise Rabin, of the NIH Division of Communications and Outreach, wrote in an email to The Standard-Journal.

The letter provided by Budkie states that on Aug. 9, 2022, the IACUC chair received allegations against an animal caretaker of Hamadyas Baboons on campus. The committee conducted an investigation and determined no Public Health Service (PHS) supported activities were involved. Therefore, no federal funding agencies were contacted.

“The investigating committee concluded that there was substantial evidence to support the allegations of animal welfare concerns against the animal caretaker,” the letter states.
On Oct. 3, the letter states the caretaker was reassigned to a different facility and removed from supervisory responsibilities.

“Following the conclusion of the investigation, the IACUC recommended the animal caretaker be removed from all animal care responsibilities, and the animal caretaker’s employment at Bucknell was terminated,” the letter states. “Bucknell is committed to protecting the welfare of animals used in research.”

Budkie claims Bucknell was required to file the report due to the university receiving NIH research funding. He also explained the SAEN filed a complaint with the USDA as primates are covered under that entity’s Federal Animal Welfare Act under the Animal Care division.

“We want this to be thoroughly investigated and Bucknell pay the maximum penalty for the federal violations,” said Budkie. “This is very unusual. The details that happened to the animals are not disclosed in the report filed by Bucknell. We know that the violations were serious enough that a supervisor was fired.

R. Andre Bell, USDA Animal Care media contact, said the entity “cannot comment in a possible complaint against (Bucknell) at this time.”

According to an online search of the USDA website, the most recent Bucknell inspection reported occurred June 24, 2022, and found “no non-compliant items identified.”

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