Was the ONPRC Let Off the Hook?
You may remember the uproar surrounding our recent investigation into the Oregon National Primate Research Center, which found apparent violations of animal protection laws and monkeys who were living in constant fear, confined to small cages and traumatized by rough handling. Well, the latest news we’re hearing from Oregon is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is charged with responding to animal abuse complaints such as this one, has investigated the ONPRC and come up with nothing. A representative of ONPRC, Michael Conn, responded to these reports with the following little piece of Orwellian spin:
“Our business involves offering hope to people with disease. My colleagues and I will not be deterred by extremist organizations or those who choose to campaign based on false information and harassment.”
The “false information” that Mr. Conn is referring to is incontrovertible video evidence from a painstaking four-month investigation that yielded extensive documentation of abuse, mishandling, and bad practice at the institution. What he means by “harassment,” I can only assume, is the fact that PETA dared to bring the ONPRC’s dirty secrets to the attention of the public. And, of course, when Conn talks about “offering hope to people with disease,” he is presumably referring to the fact that his organization takes the public’s money to perform redundant and inconclusive experiments on defenseless animals—including injecting pregnant monkeys with nicotine and killing their babies to investigate just how bad smoking is for you, and psychologically abusing infant primates to study whether trauma is traumatic.
PETA’s Director of Research, Kathy Guillermo, responded to these reports today with the following letter to the editor. Check it out, and then watch the video of our investigation for yourself to decide whether the primate center deserves anything short of being shut down forever.
If the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) really has found no problems at the primate center, either the law needs to change or the inspectors do. The evidence gathered by PETA’s investigator was shattering: Monkeys screamed in terror as employees chased them around gang cages, grabbed them and pinned their arms behind their backs. An infant monkey, taken from her own mother rocked inconsolably on the floor of a cage, clutching her arm—her only source of comfort. Monkeys, cornered in their small cages, couldn’t escape the needle-sharp spray of high pressure hoses. Animals driven mad by confinement and isolation whirled in their cages, unable to find comfort. See video of all this at StopAnimalTests.com.
More likely, this is a shameful whitewash by the primate center, and this inspection is just one part of a larger, ongoing investigation. It would be impossible to examine fully—in just 2 days—every example of abuse PETA’s investigator documented. USDA inspectors normally spend many, many months, reviewing documents, photos and video, and interviewing the whistleblower.
The real tragedy is that the primate center continues to make disingenuous excuses rather than taking meaningful action to alleviate the terrible suffering witnessed by PETA’s investigator.
Kathy GuillermoDirector of Research