A comprehensive new report on the use of non-human primates in federally regulated vivisection labs was issued today by SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now). The report on the state of primate research is based on USDA documentation, including the little-known “exemptions” to welfare laws that mean animals can be deprived of enrichment, food, and water; that permit severe confinement; that deny anesthesia for procedures; and that even allow cages to go weeks without cleaning.
The report, authored by SAEN co-founder and executive director Michael Budkie, calls out Emory University, Harvard Medical School, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the National Institutes of Health, Oregon Health Sciences University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Wake Forest University for together exempting 41 percent of the primates in their care from basic standards set by the Animal Welfare Act.
In a clear conflict of interest, these exemptions to the AWA are decided by the very organizations that stand to benefit.
“The committees empowered to…exempt animals from Animal Welfare Act regulations are comprised of employees of the institutions that receive funding to perform the experiments,” said the report. “These individuals have a vested interest in approving experiments because that keeps the federal funding rolling into their employer.”
The report also includes statements from current and/or former employees at prominent facilities, whistleblowers who stated while they are not ethically opposed to animal experimentation, they were “uniformly horrified” by what they had witnessed.
“I was once allowed to watch a necropsy,” said the anonymous whistleblower at Oregon Health Sciences University’s Oregon Primate Research Center. “No medications, the monkey was made to bleed, then cut open and organs removed as he bled to death. [I] was told it was necessary for accurate studies.”
“Because a member of our staff had an outside connection it was always known EXACTLY what day and time the FDA and/or USDA would be at Princeton for inspections,” said an unnamed worker at Princeton who gave numerous examples of animal cruelty and neglect he/she witnessed.
The infamous New Iberia Research Center at University of Louisiana, Lafayette confines approximately 7500 non-human primates, 1773 of whom are used in experimentation and 5716 confined for later use or breeding. Whistleblower testimony revealed numerous examples of veterinary neglect, poor animal health, and poor working conditions.
“I have seen animals with diarrhea for days upon days, but because of the study are simply given half of a banana and a Pepto-Bismol,” said the worker. “The techs from the veterinary department would sometimes leave the Pepto-Bismol on the door of the cage. The animal would reach for it and most times the Pepto-Bismol would fall in their feces to the tray below.”
According to current USDA statistics, laboratories in the U.S. confine and torture more than 125,000 non-human primates – an all-time high. October 15-23 is National Primate Liberation Week. For actions scheduled near you please click here. Although some events have already taken place, there are still ongoing campaigns that need the support of animal activists.
Please see The Thinking Vegan’s interview with SAEN’s Michael Budkie here.