NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Five dehydrated baby monkeys died or were euthanized in July at a University of Louisiana research center, according to a federal inspection report released this week.
Four of the rhesus macaques became dehydrated after a water pressure regulator malfunction on July 20 at the University of Louisiana at the New Iberia Research Center in Lafayette, according to the August 26 report.
The school and its staff “are diligent in caring for animals at the New Iberia Research Center,” university spokesman Eric Maron said in an email on Thursday.
Care meets or exceeds standards set by federal agencies and organizations such as the American Association for Laboratory Animal Care Accreditation, he said Friday.
A US Department of Agriculture inspector called the July 20 incident a critical violation of a “reliable running drinking water” requirement, but wrote that the university has been working to correct the problem.
The report was made public Thursday in a USDA inspection database, said Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now !, an Ohio-based group opposed to animal testing.
He asked the agriculture department on Thursday to impose a $ 50,000 fine on the school for the deaths. Budkie also reiterated a demand made in January to impose a $ 30,000 fine on the university for the apparent heat-related deaths of three adult monkeys last year.
“It is simply unacceptable that staff at ULL are unable to effectively monitor primates, only noticing problems when the animals are dead or are not responding,” he wrote to Robert Gibbens, director of operations. Animal Welfare for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The school promptly reported the 2020 deaths and took timely corrective action, a federal director of compliance oversight wrote in a letter provided by the university in January.
Maron said the research center has been checking water pressure daily since the July deaths and setting up an automatic alarm to alert staff if water pressure drops.
Inspector Annette Chapman wrote that the center also provided monkeys with “higher water supplements” and scheduled two inspections per day for baby monkeys in her studies.
Pressure was normal in the water dispensers when a baby monkey was found dehydrated on August 19 and euthanized the same day, she wrote. Her mother was normally hydrated but was “sub-conditioned,” the inspector said.
The report did not indicate why or how this infant had become dehydrated. Regular daily checks on July 19 found no further cases, Chapman wrote.
Asked about the incident on Friday, Maron wrote: “The mechanical problem started with intermittent equipment failure.
Five other infants were found dehydrated on July 20. Two were dead, two were euthanized after treatment failed to improve their condition and the fifth recovered, Chapman wrote.
In 2017, the university paid $ 100,000 to settle six complaints about its primate lab, but did not admit any wrongdoing.