Baby monkeys poisoned at U.S. primate research center

All infant monkeys were found to have dye on their fur, skin or around the mouth, which caused a fatal allergic reaction.

June 17, 2019 16:28
Color-coded. The males are black and the females a

howler monkeys 311. (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)


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Tragedy struck seven infant monkeys who were just a few weeks old, when they were accidentally poisoned and subsequently died, at one of the largest primate research center in the US,  it was reported in The Guardian.  

The unfortunate incident occurred at the University of California, Davis, as a result of the mother macaques being marked with dyes and inadvertently transferring the dye to the infant monkeys.

The incident was initially reported in April 2018 and a year later, UC Davis told the federal watchdog Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare that two of the infants were found to have “generalized weakness and respiratory distress,” with “severe edema and swelling of the larynx and tongue” with dye found on their lips and tongues. The other infant monkeys were “either found dead or euthanized upon arrival at the hospital.”

All of the infant monkeys were found to have dye on their fur, skin or around the mouth, which caused a fatal allergic reaction.

The New England Anti-Vivisection Society, which wants UC Davis and other facilities to reduce the numbers of primates used for research, said it has written to the USDA requesting that the university be fined $70,000 over the infant monkey deaths.

“It’s 2019, and we can no longer deny the science that shows non-human primates suffer like we would and feel pain like we do,” said Mike Ryan, head of government affairs at the group. “Invasive and deadly experiments on captive primates who are abused in cages for their entire lives must end.”

Following the infant deaths, the “UC Davis center staff changed procedures so they no longer dye-mark monkeys under six months of age and take other steps to minimize dye transfer,” the spokesman said, as reported by The Guardian.

There has been a string of bad news hitting the primate research operation at UC Davis, one of the largest in the country.

In 2016, the university was among nine federally funded research centers being investigated over mistreatment of primates.

In March of that year, a primate broke both legs after escaping via an unsafe door, with another being injured in a similar way.

In 2005, seven monkeys died from apparent heat exposure.

After investigations by animal rights activists, the US Department of Agriculture fined the university $4,815.

Testing on primates in the US is far from over, however, with figures released last year showing nearly 76,000 non-human primates in captivity for research purposes. Supporters of primate testing argue that it is essential in order to discover new cures for diseases that afflict humans.

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