USDA Rejects UW’s Attempt to Cover Up Violations for Dangerous Monkey Escapes

For Immediate Release:
July 9, 2021

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


Pointing out University of Washington (UW) animal laboratories’ long history of animal welfare violations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rejected UW’s attempt to erase recent citations for critical violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. One of the citations resulted from a complaint that PETA had submitted to the USDA in September.

The agency upheld citations against UW for failing to notice that a pigtail macaque was missing from her cage at the school’s Washington National Primate Research Center for 12 to 48 hours, without access to food or water. PETA uncovered this violation in documents obtained through an open records request. When the monkey was eventually found, she was suffering from dehydration. The USDA also upheld citations for another incident at the primate center in which a macaque broke two locks on a set of cages and escaped, along with his cagemate, into a room with other monkeys, sustaining injuries to their hands and fingers, and for UW’s failure to monitor rabbits for an entire weekend, as required by federal regulations.

Despite the severity of the violations, UW attorneys sent a 54-page appeal to the USDA complaining that the university should not be cited, in part because it had taken “corrective action” after the incidents occurred. In response, the agency’s director of animal welfare operations, Dr. Robert Gibbens, noted that the three critical violations had occurred over a span of just nine months, writing in a letter to UW that such a record was “not indicative of a facility that is demonstrating success at preventing critical animal welfare issues.”

“UW can’t excuse its appalling record of negligence, so it tries instead to hush it up,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “The public that funds the Washington National Primate Research Center has a right to know about its multitude of flagrant violations and that monkeys suffer as a result.”

USDA documents are available upon request. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

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