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May 6, 2006

The Exceptions are the Norm: 1000+ monkeys in solitary confinement at UW-Madison?

Stalemate : Primate center still dodging public's questions

Over a period of months, Saverio (Buddy) Capuano III, DVM, the University of Wisconsin primate center's attending veterinarian, has been reporting that relatively few monkeys at the primate center are individually housed. The UW National Primate Research Center is one of the eight National Institutes of Health's National Primate Research Centers.

Dr. Capuano reported at the January 9, 2006 Graduate School Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) meeting that only 5% of the monkeys are not socially housed.(1)

On March 23, during a public debate, Dr. Eric Sandgren, Acting Director of the UW Research Animal Resource Center (RARC) and chair of the university oversight committee charged with assuring the primate center's compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, said, “When we talk to the activists about their use of those techniques [“intimidation and harassment”] they say, well, it's because you won't communicate with us. Well, that's a stalemate.”

One month later, the primate center remains uncommunicative.

The UW's 2005 Annual Report to the USDA (Form 7023) reports 1,990 monkeys on campus; most of these are rhesus macaques. Conflicting reports from the university state that the primate center has either 1313 or 1480 monkeys. (Most of the others are at the Harlow lab.)

Self-injurious behavior in individually housed rhesus macaques is recognized throughout the primate research industry as a serious problem.(2) It is reported that 10% of individually housed monkeys are so effected by being housed alone that they resort to self-mutilation severe enough to require first aid, significant medical care, or euthanasia.(3)

Self-mutilation is the extreme end of a spectrum of pathologic responses to solitary confinement. Documents have revealed that this is a problem at the UW as well.(4)

Using Dr. Capuano's 5% figure, the public might imagine that the primate center must have about 70 monkeys individually housed; maybe as few as 7 monkeys are self-mutilating.

But Form 7023A, “Summary of IACUC Approved Exceptions to the Standards and Regulations of the USDA Animal Welfare Act,” reports that 374 monkeys are approved for individual housing from between 1 week and 4 months while another 1,030 monkeys are approved for individual housing for their entire lives.(5)

Dr. Capuano's 5% probably represents monkeys individually housed for reasons other than use in approved experiments that are claimed to necessitate no contact with other monkeys. These may be exceptionally aggressive or exceptionally fragile animals.

There may be more than 1000 permanently individually housed monkeys at the university. Based on Novak et al's research, it is likely that many monkeys on the UW campus are severely wounding themselves due to the stress of profound loneliness.

Reporting that only 5% of the monkeys are being kept alone is misleading.

The primate center has chosen not to divulge the number of monkeys it is keeping individually housed.(6)

Notes:

1. http://www.madisonmonkeys.com/IACUC_12_9_06.pdf

2. Lutz C, Well A, Novak M. Stereotypic and self-injurious behavior in rhesus macaques: a survey and retrospective analysis of environment and early experience. Am J Primatol. 2003 May;60(1):1-15. http://tinyurl.com/jxc9s

3. Novak MA, Kinsey JH, Jorgensen MJ, Hazen TJ. Effects of puzzle feeders on pathological behavior in individually housed rhesus monkeys. Am J Primatol. 1998;46(3):213-27. http://tinyurl.com/gxtj4

4. http://www.primatefreedom.com/tagreports/wir95100.shtml

5. http://www.madisonmonkeys.com/FY2005_APHIS.pdf

6. From: Rick Bogle
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:46 PM
To: Eric P. Sandgren
Subject: Animal numbers

Hello Eric,

I just wanted to say thank you. In spite of our polarity on the matter of animals in human society, I appreciate your willingness to speak in public about your views. Though my personal opinion may not matter one whit to you, I respect you for standing up for what you believe. Kudos.

(Maybe now you will consider taking on Dr. Greek?)

That said, can you explain to me the housing exceptions specified on the document at http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/files/active/0/USDA_FY2005_APHIS_FORM-7023_Submission.pdf   [Note, since this email exchange, this link no longer works. The document can be read at: http://www.madisonmonkeys.com/FY2005_APHIS.pdf ]

Adding the numbers up, it looks like more than half the monkeys are individually housed. Buddy reports at the IACUC meetings that only about 5% are singly housed. I expect that his percentage is an accurate report on the monkeys individually housed for reasons other than protocol requirements: aggressiveness, fragility, etc. But the document referenced above suggests that 70% of the monkeys might be singly housed at any one time.

Let me clear Eric, so that you are not ambushed. I intend to say something about these numbers and contrast them with Dr. Capuano's. I'd like to get the facts straight beforehand.

Thanks,

R

---------------

From: Eric P. Sandgren
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2006 9:34 AM
To: Rick Bogle
Subject: Re: Animal numbers

Hi Rick,

I've followed up with Buddy and here are the facts. The animals listed in that report actually are exemptions, not exceptions, so we may need to review how we report, or what terms we use in the report. But that isn't relevant to your concern. To address your question, the numbers reported are the maximum number approved for all protocols over the 3-year life of those protocols, not the actual number of animals that are affected at any one time. So many of the animals in the number category haven't been assigned to the study yet. Also, animals may be approved for single housing for the duration of a study, and that may be short. And animals always are in a room with other animals, and can see them and interact with them.

Hope that helps clarify. Thanks for asking.

Eric

---------------

From: Rick Bogle
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2006 9:46 AM
To: Eric P. Sandgren
Subject: RE: Animal numbers

Eric,

The distinction between exception and exemption is less important to me than the average number of monkeys housed individually.

Numbers available to the public range from Buddy's reported 5% up to the ~70% implied in Form 7023A, “Summary of IACUC Approved Exceptions to the Standards and Regulations of the USDA Animal Welfare Act.”

What is the average number or percentage range at any typical point in time?

Thanks,

R

---------------

From: Eric P. Sandgren
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2006 10:20 AM
To: Rick Bogle
Cc: capuano@primate.wisc.edu

Subject: Re: Animal numbers

Rick, I'm copying this to Buddy. No sense going through me as an intermediary--makes the communication process less reliable!

Eric

---------------

From: Rick Bogle
Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 10:10 AM
To: Eric P. Sandgren
Cc: capuano@primate.wisc.edu
Subject: RE: Animal numbers

Hello Eric,

I understand that Buddy is busy, but it's been a few days now.

I'm not looking for an absolute number, just something more about the general case.

Something like, in general, on any given day throughout the year, about xxxx monkeys are singly caged.

Maybe the number is unknown?

Thanks in advance,

R

---------------

From: Rick Bogle
Sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 5:38 PM
To: Eric P. Sandgren
Subject: RE: Animal numbers

Hello Eric,

I wrote two weeks ago (3/28/2006) asking about the number of monkeys individually housed at the primate center. This is my 4th try. I won't keep pestering you. If I don't hear back in a day or so, I'll just assume that my question is not going to be answered.

Thanks,

R

---------------

From: Eric P. Sandgren
Sent: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 8:16 AM
To: Rick Bogle
Subject: Re: Animal numbers

Hi Rick,

Sorry for my delay, but I just got the answer from the Primate Center Monday. They would prefer that any request for information to them go through a FOIA request, because that helps them track what information is being released and ensures that the same mechanism is followed for each information request. I do believe the information you want is available, and I would hope the response would be quick to your request.

Sorry I can't be of any more help.

Eric

---------------

From: Rick Bogle
Sent: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 9:21 AM
To: Eric P. Sandgren
Subject: RE: Animal numbers

Hello Eric,

This is not a criticism of you, per se.

This is the typical run-around. The problem with submitting a FOIA request for information this basic, is that only existing documents are subject to FOIA or State open records requests. The facility is not required to create a document or record in response to a FOIA request.

I have reviewed many internal documents from labs across the country, but am unaware of a document that contains information regarding the number of individually housed animals. Thus, I can't ask for the document, even if it exists, which I doubt. (How could a member of the public even learn of such a document?)

Further, members of the media have recently asked for, and received, other related documents without being required to FOIA for them. (I referred to this in my original message to you; see below.) The decision to require one person to FOIA and another not to, seems arbitrary and at odds with the explanation you suggest came from the primate center.

This is the sort of common problem that contributes to the perception of the lab operating behind closed doors and of working to keep information from the public.

Thanks for your time.

R

---------------

From: Eric P. Sandgren

Sent: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 10:03 AM
To: Rick Bogle
Cc: Kemnitz, Joseph; SAVERIO V CAPUANO
Subject: Re: Animal numbers

Hi Rick,

I'm copying your message to the Primate Center.

Eric

---------------

No communications have followed.

---end---

 

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