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Animal welfare group asks USDA to investigate animal deaths at UL Lafayette research center

New Iberia Research Facility.PNG
Posted at 5:03 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 18:03:21-04

An animal abuse watchdog group has filed an official complaint against UL Lafayette related to the deaths of several animals at the university's New Iberia Research Center.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) sent a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture calling for an investigation into the recent deaths of five macaque monkeys in August 2021 and three other deaths in 2020.

SAEN says in their letter that the these deaths put the university in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

In August, the university was issued a critical citation by the USDA for the deaths of five infant macaque monkeys. The cause of the deaths, according to a report by a USDA inspector dated August 26, 2021, was dehydration.

In the report it states that one infant rhesus macaque was euthanized on July 19 after showing signs of dehydration. Two others were found dead on July 20 and two more were euthanized that same say due to dehydration.

According to the inspection report, following an investigation it was determined that a water pressure regulator was not working properly and was reducing water pressure to the room where the animals were housed. Changes were reportedly made following the incident.

SAEN says that another report dated August 26, 2020, indicated that three monkeys were found dead on August 5, 2020, from what the report indicates was heat stroke.

KATC reported on that incident in January 2021. Read more here

The nonprofit is calling on the USDA to issue fines on the University of $10,000 per animal death.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA issued a statement following the release of the inspection report by the USDA calling for those responsible for the deaths to be criminally charged.

"The university needs to suspend all animal experimentation, modernize its program to conduct research that helps humans without harming animals and dismiss all those who have been involved in such cruelty," said PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo.

KATC reached out the university for comment on the animal deaths. The full statement is below:

"The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and its staff members are diligent in the care provided to animals at the New Iberia Research Center. The center follows rules and guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies.

On July 20, 2021, a water pressure regulator malfunctioned at the New Iberia Research Center, resulting in an intermittent reduction in water pressure to an animal room housing non-human primates, circumventing the daily cage watering checks. Six infant rhesus macaques suffered dehydration and were immediately treated by the attending veterinarian. Two died and three were later euthanized when they did not respond to treatment; one fully recovered. NIRC promptly reported this incident to the USDA.

The NIRC has implemented additional daily manual checks and records of water pressure. The center is also enhancing its automatic continuous pressure monitoring with an alarm to alert staff to pressure values outside acceptable ranges that interfaces with the NIRC Building Automation System."

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