Mar 1, 2013 10:29 AM by AP
The New Iberia Research Center has agreed to a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture stemming from the deaths of three Rhesus macaques in May 2011 and an injury sustained by a chimpanzee last year.
"Our primary concern is always the safety and welfare of the primates in our care. We regret these incidents and have made changes intended to reduce the chances of reoccurrences," said Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, interim vice president for Research at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
The NIRC immediately self-reported the deaths of the three Rhesus macaques, who were found in a closed metal passageway that connects two outdoor cages. The monkeys were accidentally blocked in the chute for some time. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cited the NIRC for violating a regulation that requires daily observation of all animals.
The NIRC subsequently reassigned personnel, took disciplinary actions, revised related standard operating procedures and re-trained personnel.
In April 2012, a chimpanzee in an indoor enclosure reached through a drain opening that connected to an outdoor chimpanzee enclosure. Its hand and arm were injured by the outdoor chimpanzees. The NIRC immediately self-reported the injury. The center was later cited by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for the enclosure's design, which did not completely protect the chimpanzee that was indoors. That enclosure's design has been modified to prevent the reoccurence of the injury.
The USDA assigned a penalty for both incidents that totaled $38,571. It did not specify penalty amounts for the separate incidents.
"In the spirit of continuous improvement, we will conduct ongoing evaluations of our standard operating procedures and practices to ensure the safety and welfare of our primates," Kolluru said.