Harvard Fined $24,036 by U.S. After Research Primates Die

Harvard Medical School was fined $24,036 for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act related to the deaths of four primates used in research as well as several escapes and injuries of animals.

The 11 violations, which occurred between February 2011 and July 2012, included providing an animal with too much anesthesia and allowing others to become dehydrated, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a document on its website today.

Harvard Medical School spokesman David Cameron confirmed the USDA action and said in a phone interview that the Boston-based medical school paid the fines. He said he didn’t have further details.

The USDA said one animal had to be killed because of improperly administered anesthesia and another died with the chain from a toy wrapped around its neck. Other violations related to a food hopper that wasn’t secured properly, allowing apes to escape, and dehydration that led to two being euthanized.

Federal inspectors also observed signs of physical and psychological distress in the animals, the agency said.

“The USDA has literally let Harvard get away with murder,” Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! of Milford, Ohio, said today in an e-mailed statement.

Center Closing

Harvard in April said it would close its New England Primate Research Center over the next two years due to funding constraints, according to a statement at the time. The facility, which conducted studies of illnesses including AIDS, colon cancer and Parkinson’s disease, is still open.

The fine “won’t motivate Harvard to do better,” Justin Goodman, director of laboratory investigations for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said today in a statement. “Thankfully, the school already recognizes that tormenting monkeys is not the future of science and made the laudable decision to completely shut down” the facility, he said.

The Harvard case was one of eight enforcement actions announced by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on its website today.

The agency is responsible for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, which requires minimum standards of care and treatment for animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public. The law excludes animals raised for food and fiber.

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