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Nov-21-2007 05:10printcomments

PETA States Opinions on Primate Research in Oregon

Opinion Editorial from PETA.

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(PORTLAND, Ore.) - On November 13th, PETA went public with the results of a four-month undercover investigation revealing that the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) consistently operated in violation of federal guidelines governing the use and care of animals.

Using evidence documented by our undercover investigator, PETA alleged that the primate center denied sick animals adequate and effective veterinary care and pain relief, handled monkeys in ways that caused them psychological and physical trauma, cleaned cages with a high pressure hose that left the animals wet and frightened and provided inadequate enrichment activities that resulted in monkeys frantically pacing back and forth inside of their tiny cages.

Video footage collected during the investigation can be viewed at

In response, ONPRC has made variety of sweeping claims about the “well-being” of the animals held captive at the facility and has bragged that their recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspections didn’t reveal violations. Their statements are misleading and must be taken with several grains of salt.

Consider that in 2000, ONPRC hired Dr. Carol Shively of Wake Forest University, an expert in primate behavior and director at the Wake Forest Primate Research Center, to evaluate its animal care and psychological well-being programs.

Her recommendations included better training for employees in handling techniques, devoting more resources to environmental enrichment and “immediately” adopting the goal of “zero single housing” by housing monkeys together. She also recommended the “immediate” termination of all social deprivation experiments with monkeys under three years old, in which baby monkeys are isolated from their mothers; all protocols that require single housing for more than three months; electroejaculation procedures, in which male monkeys are forced to ejaculate by strapping them into restraint chairs and electrically shocking their penises; and single housing for infants.

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ONPRC’s Director, Susan Smith, trivialized Shively’s critiques in an interview with an Oregon newspaper, and continued with business as usual.

To view conditions at ONPRC today, it is as if this Shively’s report was never written. PETA’s undercover investigator recently observed monkeys running in terror from employees who grabbed them, pinned their arms behind their backs and shoved them into transfer boxes.

Monkeys who lived by themselves in tiny cages appeared to become so disturbed by the isolation that they developed persistent, neurotic pacing behaviors and even self-mutilation. Tax-payer funded studies entail single housing and social deprivation. An employee told our investigator that ONPRC still uses electoejaculation.

ONPRC’s claim that their last two USDA inspections did not identify any violations of federal law ring hollow when one understands that there have been many instances in which the USDA has failed to identify substantial illegal research activity during their facility inspections--violations that were later identified by activists and eventually resulted in citations and fines.

From a practical perspective, it is impossible to assess the care and well-being of more than 4,000 primates in the span of a USDA inspection, which lasts one or two work days. It can take several hours, and even days, to evaluate the care log of just one monkey. A USDA inspection report is just a snapshot, and a very fuzzy one at that.

There are political issues at work here too. A former USDA Animal Care Inspector for Oregon, Isis Johnson-Brown, who was responsible for inspecting ONPRC, quit her position and spoke out publicly in 2000 after realizing that she would be unable to enforce the federal animal welfare regulations because of the USDA’s “good ol’ boy relationship with the research industry.”

In fact, she asserts that she was explicitly told by her supervisors “to make a personal list of violations of the law, cut that list in half, and then cut that list in half again” before writing her official reports.

The federal regulations that she refers to provide only minimal husbandry and veterinary care standards--clean food, potable water and prompt veterinary care. Confining, isolating, poisoning and mutilating animals are all perfectly acceptable under federal animal welfare law. Even food, water and veterinary care may be withheld from animals should an experimenter find some negligible justification for doing so. Given all of this leeway, our investigation showed that ONPRC could still not meet even these nominal requirements.

But the problem here is much greater than one of noncompliance with ineffectual federal statutes. The systematic exploitation and violent abuse of sentient animals is being endorsed and bankrolled by our federal government. The primates at ONPRC suffer greatly from being exploited for research and it is morally unjustifiable to continue abusing them in these ways for any reason, let alone for the bogus, redundant experimentation that passes for science at ONPRC.
Op-Ed by Justin Goodman/PETA

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Jim Newman December 4, 2007 10:32 pm (Pacific time)

A significant update for anyone following this thread. OHSU has been cleared of PETA's charges following a Federal inspection. More info here:

AntiSean November 26, 2007 8:06 am (Pacific time)

Much as I'd love to go on liberal-bashing with you folks (nice People Eating Tasty Animals comment -- I bet they never hear that one...), I find it hard to ignore the video footage of primates exhibiting stereotypical behavior which indicates insanity. While medical progress is nice and I do certainly encourage it, I would insist that it be done more humanely than solitary confinement for these intelligent creatures so similar to our own kind. All things considered, I'm grateful to PETA for bringing this to my attention.

Fred November 23, 2007 10:55 am (Pacific time)

Neal, If you are no fan of PETA and admit that some of that they say is nonsense, why on earth do you believe what their representative is saying now? Isn't it possible he is not telling us all of the story? I looked up Mr. Goodman and saw that he recently presented information about his beliefs at a conference that also featured the Animal Liberation Front - you know, the guys who burn down buildings? How is that for credability? Remember, PETA is the same group that compares livestock to the Holocaust suffering of jews and demeans women as part of their cause any chance they get. Why do the suddenly have credability now?

Neal Feldman November 22, 2007 12:08 pm (Pacific time)

fred - Im no great fan of PETA extremism (chickens are bred to be eaten folks, so what is with the civil rights for chickens nonsense?) but in the case of what this article covers they have a point. And the fact that ordered changes were never employed highlights it. I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day. As for the filter, it let you by fred... hmmm maybe you have a point after all. Ah well...

DD877 November 22, 2007 5:53 am (Pacific time)

PETA= People Eating Tasty Animals Bring on the Turkey

fred November 21, 2007 4:02 pm (Pacific time)

WOW the PETA PR machine is working overtime. Nice how Salem News basically prints anything handed to it...great filter

Jane November 21, 2007 6:38 am (Pacific time)

Haven't they learned all they need to know about social isolation? They've been doing those experiments for 50 years. Forcing the primates to ejaculate? How sick can you get.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.