Primate Laboratory Gets Put on Notice

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2 min read
One of the monkeys who was abused for experiments at ONPRC

It’s been awhile since we last mentioned the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC). But even though ONPRC hasn’t been in our blog, it’s been very much on our minds, and there are encouraging new developments to report.

For those of you who have hit-and-miss memories like mine, here’s a quick recap: Our 2007 undercover investigation at ONPRC found that monkeys were tormented by laboratory staffers, forced to eat food out of waste-filled trays, denied medical care or pain relief, and driven mad by horrific laboratory conditions. Still, despite undeniable video evidence, the USDA somehow didn’t see anything wrong at ONPRC.

At that point, ONPRC may have thought that it had won and that we would slink away. But, hey, this is PETA, after all, so think again, monkey abusers!

This past fall, we obtained new internal documents from ONPRC that detailed further abuse and neglect, so we submitted a new complaint to the USDA. In it, we outlined the following incidents:

  • A sick, pregnant monkey was denied veterinary care and pain relief because the experimenters “didn’t know the signs of animal pain and distress” (the mother and her unborn baby both died).
  • A surgical sponge was left inside a baboon and was only discovered after the monkey was killed for an experiment.
  • ONPRC experimenters accidentally performed surgery on the wrong monkey.

Wow. Cold-hearted and inept—a deadly combination.

Based on our complaint, the USDA inspected ONPRC, and this time, it confirmed our allegations. So ONPRC was cited for three violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including causing monkeys trauma, stress, harm or discomfort and failing to adequately monitor and provide veterinary care to animals.

And the agency didn’t stop there: In December, the USDA issued an “official warning” to ONPRC that it may face civil or criminal penalties if additional violations are found in the future.

It’s a hopeful sign of progress, but we’re hardly done with ONPRC. After all, these incidents are only a small part of the cruelty still being inflicted on the more than 4,000 primates there.

Written by Jeff Mackey

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