Covance lab monkey care exposed again
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2005:
NORFOLK–PETA research and investigations chief Mary Beth
Sweetland told news media on May 17, 2005 that undercover
investigator Lisa Leitten between April 26, 2004 and March 11, 2005
“secretly videotaped repeated violations of the federal Animal
Welfare Act,” at a Covance Research Products laboratory in Vienna,
Alleged violations, Sweetland said, included “punching,
choking, and taunting injured monkeys; recycling sick monkeys into
new experiments; failing to administer veterinary care to severely
wounded monkeys; failing to euthanize monkeys who were in extreme
distress; and failing to properly oversee lab workers,” who
allegedly “tore monkeys from their cages and violently shoved them
into restraint tubes.”
Sweetland said Leitten’s undercover video also showed Covance
staff “performing painful and stressful procedures in full view of
other animals, monkeys with chronic rectal prolapses resulting from
constant stress and diarrhea,” monkeys suffering from “daily bloody
noses” as result of harsh intubation, and “monkey self-mutilation
resulting from failure to provide psychological enrichment and
PETA filed a 253-page complaint to the USDA Animal & Plant
Health Inspection Service, asking that the lab “be shut down until a
thorough investigation can be conducted.”
Covance responded by suing PETA and Leitten in Fairfax
County, Virginia, demanding that PETA surrender the originals and
all copies of Leitten’s documentation, cease web publicity about the
investigation, and agree to never again infiltrate Covance.
Covance accused PETA and Leitten of fraud, conspiring to
harm its business, and violating a nondisclosure agreement that
Leitten signed when she began work there as a primate care
technician, wrote Bonnie Pfister of Associated Press.
Pfister and other reporters confirmed that the PETA materials
“depict frightened monkeys being yanked from their cages and handled
roughly by aggressive, often cursing technicians.”
Leitten, 30, told media that the Covance investigation was
her third for PETA, and would be her last. She holds an M.A. from
Central Washington University, where she worked under linguist and
animal advocate Roger Fouts at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication
Institute. Her first undercover job for PETA, beginning in May
2002, was a nine-month stint at a contract research lab in Missouri
that did feeding studies for Iams, a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble.
Leitten’s findings caused Iams to fire the lab.
Leitten in 2003 infiltrated the Amarillo Wildlife Refuge in
Texas, which was eventually cited for several Animal Welfare Act
violations as result of a PETA complaint. By May 2004 the refuge was
in compliance, USDA spokesperson Darby Holliday told David Fleshler
of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Covance was assembled as a subsidiary of Corning, Inc.
during the 1980s and 1990s, through the acquisition of independent
drug development companies. “In January 1997, Corning spun off
these businesses as one publicly-traded, independent company called
Covance Inc.,” says the company web site. Based in Princeton, New
Jersey, Covance now claims “annual net revenues totaling more than
$1 billion, over 6,600 employees and 17 offices throughout the
Covance came to the attention of animal advocates after U.S.
lab purchases of monkeys from abroad more than doubled between 1997
and 2002. Charles River Laboratories imported 36% of the monkeys;
Covance imported 30%.
The British Union Against Vivisection in 2003 hired freelance
journalist Friedrich Mulln to infiltrate a Covance nonhuman primate
facility in Munster, Germany. Mulln, like Leitten, produced
undercover video of staff allegedly abusing monkeys. As the case
broke, Covance won an injunction against further distribution of the
video by Mulln, but BUAV was beyond the jurisdiction of the court.
Images from the investigation remain accessible at various web sites.
Some Covance animal welfare issues have emerged in other
ways. On January 24, 2005 a fire of unknown origin at Covance
Research Products’ Texter Mountain complex in Millcreek Township,
Pennsylvania razed one of four barns which according to a 2001 USDA
report cumulatively housed 14,000 rabbits. Heavy smoke reportedly
interfered with employees’ efforts to evacuate the rabbits.