PETA Files NIH Complaint Against the University of Puerto Rico After USDA Citations

For Immediate Release:
August 30, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Please see the following statement from Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, PETA’s senior science advisor on primate experimentation, concerning just-released critical violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act at the University of Puerto Rico’s Caribbean Primate Research Center that involved the deaths of four monkeys due to neglect and incompetence. One monkey was found dead in her cage after the center failed to provide her with medical treatment. Two other monkeys were found dead in their cages—but the university failed to determine what caused their deaths. A fourth monkey was euthanized after sustaining traumatic injuries inflicted by other likely stressed monkeys with whom he had been caged. And a fifth monkey escaped from his enclosure and caused injuries to other monkeys. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspection report, these incidents occurred during the university’s Union incident in February when only four of the total 20 employees responsible for providing the monkeys with care were able to enter the facility. However, the violations also suggest systemic problems at the facility—including failing to ensure that monkeys who were caged together were compatible and failing to adhere to standard veterinary practices, which would have included determining the two monkeys’ cause of death.

The citations issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture won’t undo the pain and trauma endured by the four monkeys who died in the University of Puerto Rico’s laboratories, but they demonstrate that the school shouldn’t be trusted with even one more penny of taxpayer funding for experiments on animals. PETA has filed a complaint with the National Institutes of Health, calling on it to turn off the money spigot to the university.

The revelation of the monkeys’ agonizing deaths in their small, barren cages coincides with the participation of Dr. Melween Martinez, director of the Caribbean Primate Research Center (CPRC), in a national workshop on primate experimentation—at which the assembled committee called for more monkeys for experimentation. However, it is amply clear that the CPRC is incapable of adhering to minimum animal welfare standards for the 2,300 monkeys presently imprisoned at the facility. Adding more monkeys to this population would only increase the misery these sensitive and intelligent animals endure.

PETA is calling on the university to modernize its research program by leaving cruel, archaic, and unreliable experiments on animals behind and using only sophisticated, human-relevant research methods. PETA is also calling on Emory University, Oregon Health & Science University, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, Tulane University, the University of California–Davis, and the University of Washington to do the same and to sever any ties with the University of Puerto Rico in order to avoid complicity in the neglect and suffering documented at the CPRC.

For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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