New documents released by an animal activist group have revealed previously-unknown animal care issues at Harvard Medical School's primate research facilities. The documents, which were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Michael Budkie, executive director of the animal activist group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, include an incident in 2012 in which a rhesus monkey escaped from its cage and inflicted injuries on itself, another monkey, and an employee. The Boston Globe reports:
The new documents, correspondence between Harvard Medical School officials and the National Institutes of Health's Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, detail two issues related to animal welfare that appear to be similar to previous incidents for which the university was cited and fined.
In addition to the monkey that escaped its cage and injured itself, another monkey, and an employee in June 2012, a February 2013 letter details an incident at an unspecified Harvard primate facility during which a marmoset's leg was fractured when its leg became stuck between the bars of its cage.
This is just the latest high-profile animal welfare issue for the university -- last month, Harvard was fined over $24,000 for 11 violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including four involving the death of an animal.
In the wake of the new developments, Budkie wrote a letter of complaint to the Agriculture Department, calling for an investigation into the facility:
In light of the fact that Harvard is a repeat offender with a significant history of Animal Welfare Act violations which have had serious consequences for animals including death and traumatic injuries, I must insist that at the completion of your investigation into these incidents you levy the largest fine allowable under the Animal Welfare Act against Harvard, or $10,000 per non-compliance.