By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
DAVIS, CA – A national watchdog group has charged that the University of California at Davis – which has long been the target of animal rights groups – negligently killed seven infant monkeys at the California Primate Research Center, and may be covering up exactly what happened.
UCD has admitted to the deaths of the monkeys, which occurred around March/April 2018, in federal documents, and has blamed the deaths on a dye used to mark the baby monkeys.
The dye used was relatively new, said UCD, and was placed on the back of the infants in the research facility, as had been done for years. However, placing the die “prematurely” could expose the baby monkeys to the dye in the face, nose and mouth areas – the dye was found near the nipples of the sedated female monkey.
The infants, according to UCD in documents sent to the government, died after severe edema, swelling of larynx and tongue, respiratory distress and other causes. Most of the infants were found dead or euthanized.
“The infant deaths are being passed off as an allergic reaction to dye placed on their mothers, but this could be a smoke screen and cover-up,” charged SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!), a national, non-governmental watchdog that monitors U.S. research facilities for illegal behavior and animal abuse.
SAEN said UCD’s negligence was a violation of federal law.
UCD has negligently killed research subjects in the past, said SAEN, pointing to a “significant” fine for mistreating animals in 2018.
Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN, said at least one infant may have died, not necessarily because of the ingestion of the toxic dye, but of sepsis, an infection. He said there was nothing in the records
provided by UCD that noted UCD tried to treat the sepsis before the monkey died or was euthanized. Another baby, said SAEN, was listed with “severe bronchopneumonia with bacteria.”
These deaths likely had nothing to do with the dye, said SAEN, suggesting the death of two of the infants “just happened to be discovered at the same time as the dye deaths.
“Essentially, this is a matter of UC Davis treating these monkeys, who are very much like humans, as though they were nothing more than inanimate objects, part of the inventory to be labeled, tattooed and ignored.
“The failure to provide veterinary care to two of these infant monkeys, which likely led to their demise, was inexcusable. But UC Davis is probably more concerned about the negative publicity this will bring, and the lost revenue from the dead monkeys, than the unnecessary suffering and deaths of these animals,” said Budkie, a longtime critic of the national primate research centers.
“It seems to me that UC Davis is attempting a cover-up,” said Budkie in his complaint to the U.S. Dept of Agriculture. He’s asking the USDA to fine UCD $110,000.
“The records indicate that five of the infant monkeys likely had an anaphylactic reaction. But the other two had severe infections. Things like this do not develop overnight. UC Davis clearly failed to provide adequate veterinary care and their negligence in that regard killed two of these infants,” added Budkie in his complaint to the USDA’s regional office in Ft. Collins, CO.
The complaint said UCD has “racked up” six new citations since July of 2016, including “three critical citations,” including a “repeat critical citation for the death of a guinea pig.”
UCD “self-reported” that on February 27, 2018, a “staff member mistakenly removed a section of a guinea pig enclosure resulting in one guinea pig falling out of the enclosure to the floor. The enclosure was on the top row of a rack, approximately five feet from the floor. The animal died shortly after falling,” said Budkie.
He also noted critical citations in numerous instances, including the 2017 death of an anesthetized rabbit after a technician turned a valve in the wrong direction and the subject was injected with air.
“I must insist that your office immediately open a full investigation of this incident…and at the completion of your probe, levy the maximum fine allowable under the Animal Welfare Act of $10,000 per infraction/per animal. This should result in a penalty of $110,000.
“It is clear that the previously issue of a $5000 fine which was levied against UC Davis, is essentially being ignored. This is not surprising, because UC Davis has been allowed to violate the law with virtual impunity for years,” said Budkie in the strongly-worded complaint to the USDA.
“It is eminently clear that the University of California, Davis believes that it is above the law, and routinely flaunts the authority of the USDA. It is time for your office to take meaningful action against this lawbreaking lab to show the administration that any further animal deaths will simply not be tolerated,” he added.
UCD, said Budkie, recently paid $5,000 to settle another “critical” citation from a 2016 incident in the death of a rabbit. The latest deaths follow previous deaths of a rabbit and a guinea pig, and injuries to two primates, according to a SAEN press statement.
“13 major violations of the Animal Welfare Act have piled up at UC Davis, and these failures to comply with the federal law are often connected either to deaths or serious injuries. Because multiple animals have died as a result of the University of California, Davis’s long history of flagrant violations of the Animal Welfare Act, I must insist that you take the most severe action allowable under the Animal Welfare Act,” wrote Budkie.
SAEN’s complaint is at: https://saenonline.org/media-UC-Davis-Complaint-6-17-19.html