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OHSU statement about incidents at Oregon National Primate Research Center

A group known as Stop Animal Exploitation Now recently issued a news release about four incidents at Oregon Health & Science University's Oregon National Primate Research Center. We at OHSU and the ONPRC want the public to fully understand the circumstances surrounding the death of 10 animals that occurred over the last two years at ONPRC — a facility that houses approximately 5,000 nonhuman primates.

OHSU officials promptly reported each incident to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, the National Institutes of Health office responsible for the oversight of animal care for all publicly funded biomedical research, including research at the United States’ national primate research centers. We also reported these incidents to the United States Department of Agriculture, which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act and performs unannounced inspections at all national primate research centers at least twice per year. OHSU and ONPRC employees are saddened by these events. Because ONPRC staff work hard to provide the highest levels of care to our animals, accidental deaths are rare. Nevertheless, OLAW determined that the university’s actions taken to prevent recurrence of the incidents were appropriate, and OHSU was not fined or cited for improper animal care by any oversight agency in connection with any of the deaths.

Overall, 10 monkeys died in four separate and distinctly different incidents.

A fight among monkeys in an outdoor corral at ONPRC in June 2013 resulted in the death of six monkeys and injuries to other animals. All of the injured animals fully recovered with immediate veterinary care, and were successfully reintroduced into their original group.

In July 2012, one monkey died after eating specially formulated "monkey chow" that had been incorrectly processed by the food manufacturer, a fact that was unknown to the ONPRC at the time.

Prior to that, in April 2012, a female monkey inadvertently injured herself and subsequently died following transport from a group housing facility to the ONPRC clinic for medical treatment.

And in February 2012, two juvenile monkeys died from unknown causes during the transfer process from an outdoor housing facility for health checkups.

Because OHSU and ONPRC officials believe in absolute transparency, we post all USDA inspection reports of our facility for the public to view online.

ONPRC voluntarily participates in an accreditation program where international experts regularly inspect our facilities and program of animal care. The center recently received notice that full accreditation has been renewed; OHSU has now been accredited for an uninterrupted three decades.

Over and above adherence to all laws and regulations, we at OHSU and ONPRC accept an ethical mandate to ensure that all of our animals are treated respectfully and humanely. We employ 15 veterinarians, a dedicated Behavioral Services Unit and dozens of other individuals to care for the animals that live here. As a result of that exemplary care, our monkeys live nearly twice as long, on average, as their counterparts in the wild. We also post online more information about how we care for our animals.

“Our staff is committed to providing responsible and compassionate care for all of our animals, and always has been,” said Nancy Haigwood, Ph.D., ONPRC director and senior scientist. “Our record over the years proves that. That’s why we’re open and transparent about our work and about how outside evaluators judge how we care for our animals.”

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