Charles River’s Appallingly Long List of Animal Welfare Violations

Charles River Laboratories is the world’s largest breeder of animals for use in experiments, profiting from the pain, misery, and death of sentient beings. It breeds and sells millions of animals, from mice to monkeys, for use in laboratory experiments around the world, supplying one of every two animals used in experimentation.

It is also one of the largest importers of monkeys into the U.S., bringing in thousands of them taken from their forest homes or bred on decrepit factory farms. The company posts annual revenues in excess of a billion dollars but doesn’t institute simple safeguards to ensure that animals are safe.

Charles River violates federal animal welfare laws with appalling frequency. There are high-profile violations, such as when 32 monkeys were baked alive because no one noticed a thermostat malfunction or when a monkey was scalded to death because her cage was run through a high-temperature cage washer—while she was trapped inside it.

And there’s everyday incompetence: inadequate veterinary care, failure to provide suffering animals with pain relief, inadequate housing, shoddy surgical methods, and failure to investigate non-animal alternatives to experiments that involve severe suffering.

Below is a detailed list of animal welfare violations at Charles River facilities documented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

September 1, 2022

Animals were used in an experiment without a scientific justification for the number being used.

July 25, 2022

Monkeys were shipped from Reno, Nevada, to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City without proper veterinary inspection, endangering the monkeys and the public at large.

March 20, 2017

  • Three pigs were euthanized after sustaining serious leg injuries.
    • One jumped or fell out of an enclosure while the door was open.
    • Another injured a hoof while staff removed them from an enclosure.
    • A third sustained a leg injury while they were in a restraint sling.

June 28, 2016

Staff euthanized a rabbit who was severely injured while being dosed with a medication and lost full function of their hind legs.

May 12, 2015

Inspectors found such severe “rusted, flaking metal” on cages, affecting 1,971 monkeys, that officials expressed concern that the deterioration could “compromise structural integrity.”

January 9, 2012

  • Staff bled six guinea pigs from the same eye within two days, even though procedures called for at least seven days between bleeds.
  • Staff bled nine guinea pigs from the eyes with no indication that any pain relief had been given.

June 9, 2009

  • A monkey was scalded to death after being left in a cage that was run through a high-temperature cage washer. At least three times, staff were required to look into the cages to ensure that they were empty, but no one noticed the monkey.

March 12, 2009

  • The facility’s animal oversight committee misclassified a situation in which inspectors found two rabbits with squinted eyes as a major deficiency, but veterinary staff noted the rabbits were in pain/distress, and it should have been classified as a significant deficiency.
  • At least 12 pigs suffered from untreated skin lesions on their backs ranging in size from .25 to 6 inches. The area was reddened with crusted material.

August 12, 2008

  • Two monkeys were subjected to the same surgery in December 2007. Each developed swelling in one hand and forearm. Both were treated. One recovered, but the other developed further complications and was euthanized.
  • A dog was subjected to surgery on July 25, 2007. On August 20, the animal was thin and not eating. Exploratory surgery found that a gauze square had been left in the dog’s abdomen, blocking blood flow to the small intestine. The dog was euthanized.
  • A monkey was subjected to surgery on August 8, 2008, and was supposed to receive pain medication, but records show that staff failed to administer it on multiple occasions.
  • Staffers failed to notice that a monkey showed signs of plucking out his own hair, with marked hair loss on his entire back.

July 1, 2008

  • Temperatures in an indoor housing facility with inadequate ventilation climbed to more than 85 degrees for more than four hours on May 28, 2008, killing 32 monkeys. Thirty died immediately, and two, who never recovered, were euthanized. A total of 68 monkeys were affected. In September 2008, Charles River was fined $10,000 for the incident.

May 20, 2008

Animals were used in an experiment without a scientific justification for the number being used.

December 7, 2007

  • Pain relief was being withheld from animals in an experiment without a scientific justification.
  • At least nine animals with injuries were left untreated.
    • Seven pigs had scrapes and scratches along their backs.
    • One dog suffered from cherry eye.
    • A rabbit had an ear with thickened and reddened skin—the ear was also warm to the touch and had multiple scabs.
    • There was no indication that these animals had received veterinary care.

June 25, 2007

An experimenter performed a painful procedure on animals without first conducting a search for alternative methods as required by law.

May 16, 2007

The animal oversight committee approved a painful experiment without first ensuring that a search for alternatives had been conducted.

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