SEATTLE – The death of a University of Washington research monkey is the latest controversy in the university’s alleged animal negligence.
The federal government issued a citation against the UW after the death of the monkey, which marks the third primate fatality since 2011 and the fourth citation.
In a newly built $142 million underground facility, the UW’s Washington National Primate Research Center used 667 primates in research in 2017 – almost 300 of them were subjected to pain or distress, including the use of anesthetics and other drugs, according to the UW’s report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Nine dogs – the research facility holds 47 – 168 rabbits, seven sheep and 174 pigs were also subjected to the same pain and distress.
The latest case in April involves a pigtail marque monkey who was accidentally strangled after the chain it pulled through the bars of its cage got wrapped around its head. The chain was attached to a forging board which holds the monkeys food. It wasn’t installed properly, according to an inspection report from the USDA.
“These incidents were self-identified and self-reported by the institution to our oversight bodies as part of our ethical and responsible care of the animals,” said the UW animal research facility. “When an adverse event occurs, it is promptly reported and immediate action is taken to prevent future occurrences.”
The UW took corrective actions to remove devices that would be deadly to animals and replaced them with puzzle balls.
Another monkey died in 2017, with the UW reporting that incident as well.
That monkey died of dehydration because the water line was not connected for at least 48 to 72 hours, a report states. The cages housing the six monkeys, which included the one who died of dehydration, had not been cleaned or sanitized 17 days prior to the fatal incident.
“This is pure and simple negligence,” said Michael A. Budkie, Co-founder of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN). "These deaths could have been prevented if UW staff had followed standard operating procedures."
The UW research facility's alleged negligence goes back to over a decade ago.
A group of researchers were at the center of a series of investigations for performing 41 unauthorized surgeries on 14 monkeys, according to a 2008 investigative piece KOMO News did.
Researchers implanted coils on the monkeys' eyeballs, thread wires up the skull and put a metal cylinder - sometimes two - into holes drilled in the monkey's skull.
PETA Primatologist Debra Durham read the monkeys' medical records and said there was evidence that many of them suffered, she detailed in the article. She said one monkey, "pulls out his hair, he self-mutilates, he drinks his own urine."
In 2011, the UW was at the center of another monkey incident. One died of starvation and the USDA fined the university nearly $11,000. Another died in 2016 when the research facility collected more than the approved amount of blood from monkeys and didn’t have anesthetic-monitoring records for a procedure.
The UW animal research facility focuses on research that studies how to rewire the brain to revive paralyzed limbs, treat color blindness and find a cure for AIDS, the Center’s website states.
“If the staff of the UW cannot be trusted to install a device properly on a cage, and also cannot be trusted to be certain water is provided, then why should we believe that they can do science?” Budkie said. "And if they can't be trusted to do science, then why do they receive hundreds of millions in federal funding annually?"