Harvard touts changes at Primate Center while activist group files complaint

The Harvard-owned New England Primate Research Center in Southborough has been under the microscope lately after four monkeys died at the facility in less than two years. Harvard recently invited a Boston Globe reporter to tour the facility to see the changes they’ve made in response to the deaths. Meanwhile, an animal rights group has filed a complaint against Harvard saying there was a fifth death that went unreported.

After being cited by the USDA for three serious violations of the animal welfare act, Harvard created an independent committee charged with reviewing the management, logistics, operations, and staffing of the Parmenter Road research center. Reports the Globe:

“There’s no one here I’ve met who is not dedicated to the animals and who is not heartbroken about the adverse incidents that have occurred,’’ said Mark Barnes, the interim managing director, who joined the center last week, taking a leave of absence from his job as Harvard’s senior associate provost for research. “This offers a way of fixing this in a very permanent way. Harvard doesn’t want to be second best at anything. . . . We’re going to make this right.’’

But Ohio-based animal rights organization Stop Animal Exploitation Now filed a complaint this week with the USDA based on a whistleblower’s account that a fifth monkey died about seven months ago and that the death went unreported. Harvard has denied the claim, reports the Metrowest Daily News.

The USDA said it would follow up on the complaint by sending inspectors to the research facility.

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