Friday, August 19, 2005

Rights group discloses deaths of lab primates at University of Wisconsin

It's bad enough that they actually use other animals, but to abuse them like this is just beyond reason.

Rights group discloses deaths of lab primates

By Ryan J. Foley
Associated Press

August 17, 2005

MADISON, Wis. -- Critics of animal research have released internal records detailing a study at the University of Wisconsin that led to an "unusual number" of deaths and illnesses of rhesus monkeys in 2001 and 2002.

The university memos uncovered by the Primate Freedom Project show one of the monkeys died while an attendant went out to lunch during an experiment, and others were given drugs that had not been approved by a review committee.

"He went to lunch and he came back and the monkey was dead in a chair," said Jean Barnes, a spokeswoman for the animal-rights group, referring to one of the incidents described in the records. "That's a terrible way to treat a creature that has the same feelings that we do."

Critics say such research methods must be stopped at the university's National Primate Research Center, one of eight federally funded centers to study primates.

University officials said the memos released Monday show that the school took action against Ei Terasawa, a professor of pediatrics, after problems with her research on monkeys' brains surfaced in 2003.

They suspended the researcher from work on animals for two years in 2004 and outlawed the experiment in question, which was used to study how brains develop during menopause.

"It's one of the most severe actions that the committee has ever taken," said Eric Sandgren, chairman of a university committee that oversees research projects involving animals.

The documents, uncovered in an open-records request, were released as the rights group and the university fight over the ownership of property sandwiched between two primate labs in downtown Madison. The records did not specify how many monkeys died.

The group says it has a contract to buy the land to open a museum dedicated to the horrors of primate research, but the private owner is rethinking the sale after the university offered him $1 million--$325,000 more than protesters agreed to pay.

Rick Bogle, the group's founder, said Monday that he plans to exercise the group's option to purchase the land this week, likely setting in motion a legal fight over the property.

Terasawa, the suspended researcher, declined comment Monday.

Sandgren called Terasawa "an outstanding scientist" and said she has not yet decided whether to return to animal research after her suspension.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

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