UC Davis primate center under fire for alleged animal cruelty

On Oct. 14, members of the Sacramento Animal Rights (SAR) group protested at noon outside the UC Davis California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) at Road 98 and Hutchison Drive.

About 20 members were present with the purpose to draw media attention against the alleged use and mistreatment of animals in CNPRC experiments.

“We have been here twice a year every year,” said Linda Middlesworth, an assistant organizer for SAR. “We go to the Quad and give students information; they have no idea that there is even a primate center and what happens in there.”

Middlesworth said that the CNPRC consistently violates the Animal Welfare Act, which regulates animal research. She also said the CNPRC is considered one of the 10 worst labs in the country.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Animal Welfare Act requires minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public.

“We know about heart disease, but they [CNPRC] still have to do the experiments or they won’t get the money,” Middlesworth said. “We also know about smoking and what poisons hurt [body] tissues, but they have to conduct these experiments that are duplicated throughout the United States, and each one gets their own funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH).”

Andy Fell, spokesperson for the UC Davis News Service, said there are only eight national primate centers that are funded by the NIH. The CNPRC is open to research to UC Davis, other UCs and universities on the West Coast.

“There are a wide range of diseases that affect humans, such as autism and asthma,” Fell said. “The research is carried out appropriately and conducted [according] to regulations by the USDA and the NIH.”

Oscar Paz, an undeclared student at the American River College in Sacramento, was one of the 20 protesters.

“We were here about two months ago,” Paz said. “We’re trying to let the community know that this kind of thing exists. Not a lot of people know about it.”

Fell said that every year the number of animals in active protocol located on campus and in the wild has to be reported to the USDA. UC Davis is a research facility that is strongly based in biology with people who work with an array of animals in facilities at UC Davis and in the animals’ natural habitats

According to an SAR press release, UC Davis has a history of primate deaths. Documents released by Stop Animal Cruelty Now state more than a dozen animals have engaged in self-destructive behavior and several were killed by the center.

“They [CNPRC] are barbaric and cruel,” Middlesworth said. “The poor animals are stuck in cages and deprived of food and water for different experiments. Wires are put into their eyes and some are accidentally killed. One primate got into a drain pipe and got cut up in a fan belt.”

The CNPRC could not be reached regarding these allegations. Fell said that the protests have been peaceful and low-key, with minimal trespassing.

MEE YANG can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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