Federal regulators cited the University of Washington for the January death; the water line to macaque’s cage had been disconnected.
Federal regulators have cited the University of Washington for allowing a research monkey to die of thirst.
An inspection reportfrom the animal welfare branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says keepers noticed that the 8-year-old female pigtail macaque was lethargic on Jan. 8.
A veterinarian examined the animal and found it was “severely dehydrated,” the report says. Attempts to save the monkey failed, and it died 40 minutes later.
The veterinarian estimated that the animal had been without water for at least two to three days.
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UW officials said that a water line that normally provides a constant source of drinking water had become disconnected from the animal’s cage. A technician who was supposed to check the connection twice a day had failed to do so, said Mike Mustari, director of the Washington National Primate Research Center at the UW.
The technician resigned before a disciplinary process was completed.
“This is an event that shouldn’t have happened,” Mustari said. “It’s something we truly regret.”
A 2015 USDA inspection took the university to task for procedures in which three monkeys were fitted with skull and vertebral implants, and all the animals died. In another experiment, one monkey had three implants in its head, taking up “a large portion of the surface of the skull,” the report says.
In 2014, the UW was cited for the deaths of three young research monkeys that were placed in cages with, or near, adult males who attacked them. In 2013 and 2014, USDA inspectors found that staff failed to administer adequate painkillers to some rabbits and guinea pigs that were subjected to surgical procedures.
Animal-welfare organizations have filed several additional complaints against the UW, but the outcome of some of them remains unclear.
Under the Trump administration, the USDA removed most animal-welfare inspection and enforcement records from its website earlier this year. A small portion of those records have been restored, but the agency said it’s still reviewing many others. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups sued to force the agency to restore all the records, which formerly were posted routinely.
UW officials said they notified USDA of the recent monkey death, which led to the agency’s January inspection.
The inspection also noted that some monkey cages had not been sanitized every two weeks, as required.
Both the death and the cleaning violations earned letters of reprimand from the university’s own Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which approves and oversees all research involving animals.
Mustari said the UW has retrained staff on cage-cleaning protocols and welfare checks.
The facility received a laudatory review two years ago from the premier, independent accreditation organization AAALAC International (formerly the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care), Mustari added.
The Washington National Primate Center is the largest of seven such facilities across the country. According to the most recent annual report to the USDA, the UW had more than 2,100 research animals in 2015, including 762 monkeys and other primates.
The university also operates three monkey-breeding colonies in Louisiana, Arizona and Texas.
The animals are used in a wide range of biomedical studies, including the search for an HIV vaccine and research on treatment of heart and eye diseases.