A report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has found UC Davis guilty of violating the Animal Welfare Act for conducting experiments on a monkey at the California National Primate Research Center.
The monkey in contention was used in four separate experiments despite multiple occurrences of vomiting and self-inflicted traumatic incidents. In addition to gastrointestinal problems, the monkey was suffering from hair loss on its arms and legs and a wound on its genitals.
“UC Davis respectfully disagrees with the inspector’s conclusions. The overall thrust of the inspector’s criticism is that this animal should not have been placed on another study because of overall health condition and history of self-injury,” said Andy Fell, UC Davis spokesperson.
The research watchdog group Stop Animal Cruelty Now (SAEN) has called the acts heinous and hopes UC Davis will face a $20,000 fine from the USDA.
“This raises a lot of very serious questions. It’s not like UC Davis has a shortage of monkeys,” said Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN. “Why would they subject an animal in this condition to yet another study? Wouldn’t the health issues this animal was facing compromise the studies it was being used in? Any information that came from the use of this animal would be misleading.”
According to the reports from the USDA, veterinarians at the research center questioned whether or not the monkey should have been used in the fourth study based its health problems. The animal was sedated 15 times between the third and fourth study for treatment of traumatic injuries, some of which were caused by self-injurious behavior.
“Animals at the California National Primate Research Center receive the best of care including daily health checks and care by veterinarians with expertise in caring for non-human primates,” Fell said. “The animal was fully assessed by veterinarians and found to be stable and healthy at the time it was assigned to the fourth study. However, during the fourth study it began to injure itself. Initially, the self-injurious behavior was treated successfully, but taking into account the longer-term trends and our established criteria, the animal was euthanized in September 2008.”
UC Davis has appealed to the western regional office of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and USDA is currently reviewing the appeal.
“When you use an animal in such a way that it violates the Animal Welfare Act, you also create issues with the National Institute of Health, which could then result in the loss of grant money,” Budkie said. “This is probably why UC Davis has been so strident in their attempts to appeal the citation.”
KATIE LEVERONI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.