SNBL USA’s animal dealer’s license will be suspended for 30 days; two more monkey deaths were documented this past month.

Share story

The USDA has fined an Everett animal-research laboratory $185,000 and suspended its license for at least a month, after 38 monkeys died — many during shipment from Asia to Everett and a facility in Houston.

A decision and order spelling out the fine against SNBL USA, which sells lab animals and conducts medical testing on primates and other species, was filed Dec. 2 with the U.S. secretary of agriculture.

SNBL’s license to operate as a dealer under the federal Animal Welfare Act will be suspended beginning Dec. 22, the document says. Under the order, the license can be reinstated after 30 days if inspections show the company is properly caring for its animals.

Between the time the USDA’s original complaint was filed in September and the settlement this month, agency inspectors documented the deaths of two additional monkeys at the Everett lab.

A November inspection found that an infant macaque died after being placed in a cage with a female that was not its mother. The cause of death was likely “maternal neglect,” the inspection report says.

The facility reported the death to the USDA and took corrective action, including improved identification of animals and staff retraining, according to the inspection report.

The other monkey died from “apparent asphyxiation” when a chain from a feeding device wrapped around the animal’s neck. In the aftermath of the monkey’s death, these devices were removed from cages, and other hanging devices inspected to make sure they could not pose a similar threat, according to the inspection report.

The November inspection report was sent to The Seattle Times by Stop Animal Exploitation Now, an activist group that seeks to “liberate” animals from laboratories, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

PETA criticized the fine as “a drop in the bucket” for a company like SNBL, which is a subsidiary of Japan-based Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories. “SNBL is a dirty player in an ugly business and PETA urges federal agencies … to cancel all contracts with the company so that our taxes aren’t supporting this misery,” said a statement from Kathy Guillermo, PETA’s senior vice president of laboratory investigations.

In a statement Thursday, SNBL said the company’s ability to conduct research is not affected by the suspension, and the settlement with USDA “ensures that SNBL’s contract research, current and future studies will continue without interruption.”

The company said it worked closely with USDA to resolve issues raised by the agency, and that its pharmaceutical studies “contribute to research for cures to some of the most devastating diseases around the world, from leukemia to muscular dystrophy.”

The original complaint filed against SNBL alleged that repeated violations of the federal act over the years resulted in the 38 primate deaths. In addition to 25 monkeys that died in shipment, six died during surgical procedures performed by improperly trained workers and others strangled in their cages or died trying to escape, according to the complaint.

The November report also includes accounts of monkeys under stress ripping out their own hair.