By Alisa Mullins
You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know that all mammals need water to survive, yet this basic biology principle is apparently lost on the clever folks at Harvard. For the second time in three months, a monkey has died of dehydration at the Ivy League institution: On Sunday, an elderly cotton-top tamarin was euthanized at Harvard Medical School (HMS) after it was discovered that the monkey's cage had no water bottle, an inexcusable oversight that led the university to suspend new experiments at its New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC).
The monkey's death came on the same day that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made public an inspection report that revealed three other incidents involving the neglectful endangerment of monkeys at the facility in the past three months, including another monkey's death. This recent series of deaths has prompted PETA to call on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to suspend all funding to HMS and NEPRC and to demand a refund of any grant money spent on activity that violated federal animal protection laws, which is required by federal grant guidelines.
A HISTORY OF VIOLATIONS
The USDA has cited HMS and NEPRC for more than 20 violations of the Animal Welfare Act during the past two years, including the following incidents involving serious injuries and deaths:
- In January of this year, two primates became severely dehydrated and one died. In another incident, a primate suffered two broken bones when his leg was smashed in a heavy cage door. Another primate suffered serious foot injuries after he and others escaped from improperly secured cages.
- In December 2011, a staff member caught an escaped primate with a net, performed an imaging procedure on him, and upon returning the animal to his cage, discovered that he had died.
- In July 2011, a primate had to be euthanized after he was given an overdose of an anesthetic that caused acute kidney failure.
- In June 2010, a primate was found dead in a cage after it was run through a scalding-hot mechanical cage washer.
What PETA is asking for isn't unprecedented. Other universities, including the University of Connecticut and the University of Michigan, have had to return thousands of dollars in grant money after PETA and others uncovered animal welfare violations. After all, it seems only reasonable that our hard-earned tax dollars shouldn't be paying for activity that violates the law.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
While the recent deaths of monkeys at Harvard appear to have resulted from carelessness, HMS and NEPRC confine 2,300 other primates and deliberately commit unspeakable horrors against them, such as drilling holes into their skulls and subjecting them to cocaine addiction experiments. Ask the NIH to stop funding this cruelty at Harvard and elsewhere.