From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1996:

The December edition of ANIMAL
PEOPLE had just hit the mail,
reporting that University of Washington
Regional Primate Research Center acting
director Dr. William Morton had declined to
comment on a series of leaked reports about
animal care problems, when Morton and staff
faxed us confirmation of most of the material
––delayed to coincide with official announcements.
As reported, the Washing-ton RPRC
in October agreed to a $20,000 civil penalty
for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare
Act contributing to the accidental deaths of
exposure of five baboons; half will be spent
for facilities improvements and repairs, environmental
enrichment, and employee training.

Also as reported, the Washington RPRC
this summer will begin transferring 80% of its
macacque breeding colony, 700 to 800 animals
in all, from the Primate Field Station at
Medical Lake, near Spokane, to the Tulane
University RPRC in Covington, Louisiana.
The Medical Lake facility is to be closed
within two to three years, replaced by a new
facility planned for a site on Department of
Defense land at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma.
But a report that a Washington RPRC
researcher had been disciplined for performing
terminal experiments on primates without
Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee
approval was false. In fact, veterinary
pathologist Dr. Che-Chung Tsai was cleared
of allegations that he misrepresented the toxicity
of the potential AIDS drug PMEA in
three scientific publications.
Four frostbitten, hungry threemonth-old
male piglets, found under rubble
nine days later, were the sole survivors of a
December 20 fire that leveled the University
of Wisconsin–Madison’s 11-year-old state-ofthe-art
Swine Research Center. Among the
700 dead pigs were three herds bred for use in
studies of organ transplants, nutrition, and
bone development. The property loss was put
at $5.3. million. At deadline there was still no
clear indication of cause.
Newly released British government
statistics on animal use in British laboratories
during 1994 show that, “A total of
2.8 million scientific procedures were started,
lower than in any other year since the late
1950s, except for 1993. As in 1991 there was
a small increase in procedures of about 0.5%,
halting the downward trend which has prevailed
since the mid-1970s. As in 1993,
commercial concerns carried out just over half
of the procedures, and about four-fifths of all
procedures were performed on mice and rats.”
Biomedical research accounts for 69% of animal
use; product safety testing accounted for
about 20%. Toxity testing accounted for
approximately three-fourths of the product
safety testing. “Just over a third of all procedures
used anaesthesia for all or part of the
procedure.” The balance of animal use
occured in the production of biological material,
e.g. the use of fertilized eggs, counted as
“birds” in making vaccines. Rising demand
for a particular poultry vaccine apparently
could have accounted for all of the net
increase in animal use, as bird use increased
from 4% of the total to 7%. Overall, mice
were used in 52% of procedures, rats in 27%;
guinea pigs in about 5%; fish in 5%; rabbits
in 2.5%; primates in 0.2%; dogs in 0.1%;
and cats in 0.1%.
Six leading physicians from three
different institutions, led by Dr. Louisa
Chapman of the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta, argued in the
November 29 edition of the New England
Journal of Medicine that medical professionals
and policymakers “must recognize that
although xenotransplantation,” the transfer of
animal parts into humans, “promises benefits
for specific patients, that promise is accompanied
by an unquantifiable but undeniable
potential for harm to the wider community,”
by enabling diseases such as AIDS, ebola virrus,
and hanta virus to cross species barriers.
Often a microorganism harmless in one
species devastates another.

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