PHOENIX — The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals known as PETA has sent letters to the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Agriculture demanding investigations into facilities managed by the University of Washington and the affiliated Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
The center breeds monkeys for biomedical research. There are facilities in Seattle, Washington and in Louisiana.
'This was a horror show," said Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, a former primate researcher for the University of Washington for 14 years now working for PETA as a Senior Science Advisor for Primate Experimentation.
PETA says they obtained thousands of autopsy reports for monkeys who've died at the facility in the past four years.
They claim WaNPRC failed to maintain a program of adequate veterinary care, failed to ensure that monkeys are adequately fed and failed to ensure that only compatible monkeys were caged together resulting in death.
PETA alleges there were experiments being performed at a Mesa facility where needles, gauze and other surgical equipment were left inside the bodies of monkeys.
"There were infants that were mutilated. Infants that died from undiagnosed diseases," said Dr. Jones-Engel. "It was the worse month of my life reading through the documents.
According to a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided to 12 News from PETA, two investigations have been initiated into the facilities for possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
"It has to be shut down," said Jones-Engel. "The University of Washington primate center is on a rapid downward trajectory and what we have here with this complaint is a reflection of a place that’s falling apart."
In a statement to 12 News, a spokesperson from WaNPRC says they self-report unexpected deaths or injuries to the NIH and that a separate investigation after allegations from PETA into the Mesa facility last year found no wrongdoing.
"We are unaware of any recent complaints filed by PETA with the National Institutes of Health(NIH) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare closed the most recent case filed by PETA in October 2021 without any findings.
We suspect the information you received is part of an ongoing effort by PETA to discredit the WaNPRC and the important work we conduct toward scientific discovery and medical advances. It is well-known that PETA’s mission is to end all biomedical research involving animals, even if that results in continued suffering for humans and other animals with untreatable medical and veterinary illness."
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