The Oregon Health and Science University’s (OHSU) primate lab has been dubbed the “Worst US Primate Lab” for allegedly violating 12 federal laws. The university claims it complies with strict regulations set out by the Health Research Extension Act and the Animal Welfare Act, but in 2018 an inspection report revealed that a primate was found in its enclosure “constrained by PVC pipes on a resting perch.” Although a veterinarian began immediate treatment, the animal had to be euthanized.
Animal group Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) said it had made numerous submissions to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDAC) to fine the university with the maximum of $10,000 (£7,600) per animal penalty and infraction. But this fine has yet to materialize.
“OHSU has violated the Animal Welfare Act more than other major primate laboratories in the last 18 months,” said Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN.
The next worst offender only has four violations, it said.
The university called the complaint “inconsistent with the record and the reputation of the Oregon National Primate Research Center.”
In 2016, nine US research centres, which all receive millions of dollars in federal funding, were investigated over the mistreatment of primates. This led to calls for them to be shut down. Animal welfare campaigners described the numerous allegations laid against these research facilities as “the stuff of nightmares.” Thousands upon thousands of primates continue to be held captive and are subjected to horrifying and inhumane living conditions.
Recently, two congressmen asked the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put an end to all primate research at an Arkansas laboratory. They sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb after they learned of the death of a five-year-old rhesus monkey at the National Center for Toxicological Research near Pine Bluff.
"Enough is enough," the letter said.
"Taxpayers are sick and tired of the government's multi million-dollar monkey business, and I'm proud to lead bipartisan efforts to cut wasteful and abusive primate research at the FDA."
David Barritt, chief campaigner for Network for Animals (NFA) said primates held captive in laboratories are subjected to terrible suffering.
“They often die from strangulation, water deprivation and poor handling. Some die trying desperately to escape. As humans, we should all pay closer attention to the suffering of laboratory animals. The labs say it’s for the greater good, but it’s only for profits.”
Barritt says that while it is heartening to see politicians taking a stand for animals, there is still a long way to go in the fight against animal testing.
“We hope more politicians, representatives, businessmen and everyday working men and women start opening their eyes to these injustices. We hope that they will stand with us against animal cruelty.”