UL Defends Primate Center

Friday, March 6, 2009 - 3:08pm

UL is defending the New Iberia Research Center one day after disturbing video captured by an undercover Humane Society investigator is released.

"It was very difficult to try to respond to very specific allegations after they had developed and researched over ten months our so," UL President Dr. Joe Savoie said Thursday.

The Humane Society filed a 108 page complaint with the USDA alleging more than 300 possible violations of the American Welfare Act - a law created to ensure the physciological safety of research animals.

"Beating a monkey is not an acceptable behavior, and basically darting them on to the floor isn't either, " Humane Society Vice President Dr. Andrew Rowman said Thursday.

Allegations the university says they were never directly approached about, but allegations they tried to clear up today.

"The animal is first offered the formula by bottle, if the animal refuses, then this is the next step, " a UL researcher said.

They defended procedures that appear inhumane.

"The procedure itself is painless,” an official with NIRC explained.

They explained behavior.

"The animal on the left is actually displaying normal behavior that's called a tree shaking behavior, " a NIRC official said.

Some explanations weren't as reassuring, for instance when asked why this monkey appears to have engaged in self-mutilation, an NIRC official explained,"They’re cutters, just like humans and teens who are severely depressed cut themselves. Some say it is a coping mechanism."

A coping mechanism, the Humane Society says, is used to deal with extreme distress and isolation.

Dr. Savoie says the university will cooperate fully with a USDA investigation of animal welfare practices, but all of the officials agreed the research being done is vital to the public’s health.

The Humane Society held a press conference in Baton Rouge Thursday, and called on Governor Bobby Jindal to release 26 retired Chimpanzees at NIRC to a sanctuary in Shreveport.