Tens of thousands of deaths of primates and other animals occur each year due to animal testing, also known as vivisection.
After the death of four primates that included two cotton-top tamarins, a critically endangered primate species, Harvard was issued a fine due to animal cruelty by federal regulators. Others of various species were also subjected to inhumane cruelty, including Macaque monkeys.
The fine was a meager $24,000. A small fine for the immense infractions and suffering the animal testing facility has caused.
Most of the cruelty occurred at Harvard’s New England Primate Research Center in Southborough, however, Harvard announced in April that it intends to largely shut the center down by 2015.
Federal regulators have fined Harvard Medical School $24,036 for repeated animal welfare violations in its care of monkeys used in research, an unusual penalty for an academic institution.
— Niki Ianni-Young (@NikiMIanni) July 13, 2012
Several of the violations at Harvard, including a number of the animal deaths, appeared to involve incomplete training or inexperienced oversight by its staff.
In one December 2011 incident, employees failed to notice that a watering device malfunctioned and two primates became dehydrated at the Southborough primate center. One had to be euthanized.
Two months later, another primate at the center became dehydrated when employees failed to give it a water bottle. That animal had to be euthanized, too.
Other incidents included leaving a cotton-top tamarin in the cage while power washing it with chemicals. From Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM): In June 2010, a cotton-top tamarin at the New England Primate Research Center was sent through a cage washer and found dead in the cage after the cycle.
“How could someone not notice a monkey in a cage before loading the cage into a washer?” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., the PCRM physician and Harvard graduate who submitted the petition. “Harvard administrators claim that the primate facility has improved standards, but monkeys continue to suffer in captivity and die painful deaths. We believe there is a serious ongoing risk for tamarins and all primates at the laboratory.”
— David Hume (@GreatSkeptic) March 5, 2012
Harvard has already been investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for several violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Harvard responded stating it "cares deeply about upholding exemplary standards of care" and feels the penalty was appropriate.
“For an institution that receives $185 million annually in taxpayer funds alone, half of which is spent on animal experiments, a $24,000 fine for years of abusing and neglecting monkeys won’t motivate Harvard to do better by animals,” Justin Goodman, a spokesman for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote in an e-mail. “Thankfully, the school already recognizes that tormenting monkeys is not the future of science and made the laudable decision to completely shut down its nightmarish primate center by 2015, meaning that thousands of animals will be spared this same horrible fate.”
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