UC Davis Negligence Results in Infant Monkey Death (Again)

Amy Meyer, June 1, 2021

You might remember the tragic deaths of 7 baby monkeys at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) that we exposed in 2019. The experimenters used a dye to mark their mothers, but they didn’t realize it was poisonous to the babies.  When the babies were reunited with their mothers, their attempts to nurse poisoned them to death. 

Had the staff thoroughly surveyed the literature on the dye, they would have found indications of its irritant toxicity going back to 2001 (Ruppenthal, Primate-Science 2001). These tragic deaths were avoidable.

Today we have an update, and I wish it was a happier one.

Recent documents we uncovered reveal that another baby monkey at UC Davis died from staff negligence on the very day we urged you to pressure the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fine UC Davis for killing these 7 baby monkeys.

That’s right. It’s hard to even keep up with how many monkeys UC Davis is killing.

On June 12, 2019, a baby rhesus macaque at the California National Primate Research Center got a finger stuck in a perch bracket that was under repair. After 3 hours in the sun and 102 degree weather, the baby monkey was discovered to be trapped. Efforts to save the monkey failed. The baby monkey died of heat stress.

Prof. John Gluck, leading former primate researcher, says, “An infant with its finger caught in a bolt hole would be in immediate distress and screaming, as would the mom and others that would be recruited to the site of the problem. This incident also screams ‘understaffed and careless.'”

Was there really no staff in earshot of their cries for hours? 

The tragedy doesn’t end with the death of the baby monkeys. Imagine watching your baby or friend struggle to free their hand from entanglement for hours under the scorching sun, and eventually be taken away but never come back. Inevitably with such highly social animals, the mother and other group members of the baby caught in the unrepaired perch would be psychologically damaged. 

From poisoning baby monkeys to failing to notice another trapped in a cage in the scorching summer heat, the ongoing negligence of primates at UC Davis is inexcusable, and shows a fundamental lack of concern for how primates are suffering in their taxpayer-funded facility.

The USDA, responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, was reportedly made aware of this tragedy, but has failed to act. The USDA has also failed to cite or fine UC Davis for the seven baby monkey deaths in 2018. Their failure to take action sends a devastating message to UC Davis and other animal labs–you can negligently kill baby monkeys without repercussion. We demand better. UC Davis needs to be fined for these abuses.

That’s why we are urging the USDA’s Animal Care Division to levy a fine of $96,184 to UC Davis for these 8 baby monkey deaths, the maximum fine allowed under current law.

Right now, we need your help!

Tell the USDA to enforce the law and fine UC Davis $96,184 for these tragic and unnecessary infant primate deaths.

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