Primate Center: Investigation into 6 more monkey deaths; revelation of 12 deaths prior to 2011

by beth on April 14, 2015

The Harvard’s controversial New England Primate Center in Southborough is back in the news again. As usual, it’s not in a good light.

The center was previously in the news for monkey death incidents between 2010-2014. Now the Boston Globe is reporting an investigation into 2014 deaths and new reports of deaths from 1999-2011.

Set to close this May, the facility that once housed 2,000 animals is now down to 116. The Globe reports that six endangered monkeys shipped off last May are the source of the latest investigation.

Six of nine cotton-top tamarins delivered to Oregon Zoo died two days later from unknown causes. The Primate Center claims the monkeys were in good condition when received by the zoo.

From the article:

Harvard released a log showing that the tamarins had been observed every four hours during their three-day trip and arrived “all alert and active” in Portland, Ore. . .

The Oregon Zoo, which planned to exhibit the animals, could not determine how they died. The federal investigation may clarify whether there were lapses that caused the deaths by either institution.

“Pathologic exam of tissues showed systemic shock in all of the tamarins, which can be caused by a wide range of causes, and no specific cause was identified,” Tim Storms, an Oregon Zoo veterinarian, wrote in a memo last summer. “Five of the six had some degree of stress-related changes in muscle or adrenal gland tissues.”

A second report by the Globe reveals that the Center as responsible for 12 more monkey deaths than previously reported. And now a former director is questioning the integrity of a study conducted at the center.

The former employee claims that squirrel monkeys previously reported as having stopped drinking due to illness were deprived water due in part to human error.

For more details on the most recent incident, read the full Boston Globe article here. For the story on new allegations from prior to 2011, click here.

This is hardly the first bad press the center has received. There have been multiple public reports of monkey deaths dating back to 2010 at the lab caused by improper care.

According to a 2012 report by Metrowest Daily News, the tamarins weren’t used for research. The research facility was breeding the “critically endangered” species. Click here for past coverage.

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