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Harvard Fined Thousands of Dollars for Monkey Deaths, But Is it Enough?

Harvard Fined Thousands of Dollars for Monkey Deaths, But Is it Enough?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just slapped Harvard with a $24,036 fine for animal welfare violations that included the unnecessary deaths of four monkeys, but some animal advocates don’t think it’s enough.

The decision to issue the fine followed a lengthy investigation of Harvard’s New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC) and Longwood Medical Area, which also led to some big changes and quite a bit of unwanted publicity.

The school had previously been warned about animal welfare violations in 1993, 2006 and 2010, but no penalties were issued. In 2010, a cotton-top tamarin was found dead in a cage that had just gone through a washer, but no one had noticed it. It was later discovered that the monkey had died before going through, but how someone could have missed it is baffling.

That incident incited a warning, and Harvard initiated a review that exposed more problems and led to a change in leadership, a suspension of new research and changes in training, oversight and procedures.

Unfortunately, all the changes weren’t enough to prevent more injuries, escapes and four more primate deaths since then that were a result of human error. Another primate was euthanized after being improperly anesthetized, which led to acute renal failure. Then two more incidents occurred where monkeys had to be euthanized because of dehydration after employees failed to notice a watering device wasn’t working for one and failed to provide water for another. The final death involved a macaque who died after wrapping the chain from an enrichment toy around its neck.

In 2011, the school was cited for “inadequate supervision, inadequate housing of animals, unsanitary conditions in operating rooms, and performing procedures on research animals that were not described in the center’s approved uses,” but problems continued.

The fines levied by the USDA are for a total of 11 incidents that occurred in 2011 and 2012, but some don’t believe it’s enough, especially considering the amount of funding the school gets from the National Institutes of Health.

Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, (SAEN) told the Boston Globe he was “appalled” and pointed to higher fines at other schools for fewer violations, including the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, which was fined close to $39,000 for just two citations that led to three primate deaths.

SAEN is also pursuing problems at other universities and is calling for investigations and fines over questionable deaths, negligence and other violations of the Animal Welfare Act. In just the past two months a number of universities have been highlighted for problems with animal treatment, including South Dakota State University, the University of Houston, Vanderbilt University, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the University of Idaho and the University the Pennsylvania. SAEN is also in the process of suing the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for failing to produce public records regarding testing on primates that led to their deaths.

Still other schools have been called out for ridiculous experiments and sickening levels of animal cruelty, all while researchers continue to claim using animals in biomedical research is a necessary evil.

While the USDA’s fine could have been $10,000 per incident, the fact that it fined the university at all is a fitting end for the NEPRC, which houses an estimated 1,800 primates. In April, Harvard announced it would be shutting the facility down by 2015, and while it claimed the decision was based on finances, it’s hard to believe the continuing problems had nothing to do with it. Either way, it’s closure will spare thousands of lives from unnecessary suffering. Hopefully as ongoing problems with animal research in higher education continue to be brought to light at other facilities, they’ll face greater public scrutiny and the opposition that’s needed to end using animals.

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Photo credit: cuatrok77

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128 comments

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10:17AM PST on Feb 1, 2014

ive been a N.A.V.I MEMBER FOR DECADES AND THE FIGHT STILL GOES ON!!! greedy elite corporations mainly banksters are behind nearly all of it. we have to fight these Bsssss where it hurts in their pockets, don t purchase anything that you feel may have been produced as a result of vivisection research, and there are many, look at the beauty industry for starters.
when i wore make up, i bought "
Beauty Without Cruelty" products. this would hit many corporate monsters, and promote honest products from kind producers

11:36PM PST on Dec 29, 2013

Let's just stop victimizing animals period. Eating, testing, wearing.... We don't need any of it. Everyone would be better off.and so would the earth.

4:47PM PST on Dec 29, 2013

I dream of the day that vivisection will be obsolete. My friends and I could not finish watching a video of the torture they inflict on poor helpless sentient beings in the name of science and in the name of someone profiting from them. I am rather pessimistic that I will live to see that day. The least we can do is signing petitions against animal testing, boycott cosmetic companies (if that can do any good), avoid pharmaceuticals and use alternative healing methods. A fine for Harvard is just a joke that doesn't make me laugh.

4:16PM PST on Dec 29, 2013

Why do these universities have monkeys anyway. This is pure evil and abuse. These are supposedly educated people, right? How can no one know that a dead monkey is in a washer? And why in the heck did no one realize a monkey died and was MISSING??? All these "universities" need to lose the animals. They are irresponsible and do not need to conduct useless abusive experiments on the babies.

2:09AM PST on Dec 27, 2013

@ Alex .H "You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." I forget who said that now...

The world view is now changing, thanks to people like yourself Alex. We Humans don't like change. We are creatures of habit. Humans believe in imaginary Gods, Demons and a burning bush. We see Angels in place of Monsters, and Monsters in place of Angels. For all of our vaunted intelligence, we're not that clever.

Why do sheep need shepherds?

1:52AM PST on Dec 27, 2013

I have been fighting this nauseating evil of animal experimentation for 45 years and I fear that I will go to my grave and nothing will have changed.This mindless,barbaric exploitation of animals,especially primates (our closest relatives!)is so entrenched in vile laboratories all around the world,that nothing will ever change and even though animals are not needed for research,there are too many vested interests involved.There will always be cruel,nasty "wastes of space"who can torture and hurt helpless animals without batting an eyelid.Apparently,it's a "power"thing!?Just the negligent deaths at Harvard speaks volumes about the sort of sub-humans who are employed there!

12:20AM PST on Dec 27, 2013

stop animal experiments/tests

4:04PM PST on Dec 26, 2013

HARVARD should not be allowed to have any sort of animal at all .

9:25AM PST on Dec 26, 2013

These evil outdated practices should require, millions in fines & the researchers name in a black book each time abuse is discovered!! Then if their name appears FOR A SECOND TIME....SACK EM!

8:57AM PST on Dec 26, 2013

Evil? are we in the Middleages?

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