One died of an overdose. Two from water deprivation. And one was unintentionally strangled while playing with a toy designed to enrich the lives of research animals. The means varied but the results were the same: 4 monkey deaths at Harvard Medical School research centers since 2011. After a lengthy investigation, the Department of Agriculture fined Harvard $24,000 for repeated animal welfare violations, specifically the mistreatment of primates at its animal research labs in Massachusetts.
Harvard announced in April that it will shut down its New England Primate Research center by 2015. The University’s smaller facility in the Longwood Medical Area in Boston will continue to operate. That facility houses 45 primates.
The story would not complete without an email statement from a spokesperson from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: “For an institution that receives $185 million annually in taxpayer funds alone, half of which is spent on animal experiments, a $24,000 fine for years of abusing and neglecting monkeys won’t motivate Harvard to do better by animals. Thankfully, the school already recognizes that tormenting monkeys is not the future of science and made the laudable decision to completely shut down its nightmarish primate center by 2015, meaning that thousands of animals will be spared this same horrible fate.”
Harvard Medical School also released a statement saying the federal fine was appropriate. “The leadership of the school cares deeply about upholding exemplary standards of care,” it said.