Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Vilas Monkeys (Part Two)

The Vilas Monkeys (Part Two): The Ten-Year Anniversary of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Most Blatant Instance of Animal Cruelty and Lying to the Public. A Story of Cover-up, Conspiracy, Adultery, Battery, Disdain for Public Sentiment, and Crimes Too Unbelievable and Hideous to Discuss in Polite Company

Part Two
Let me add the example of the adult rhesus monkey females who will be treated in the next chapter. Their pen has a row of six large, reflecting observation windows near the ceiling, more than 5 meters above the floor. Every birth season, we see females place their newborn baby on the floor, walk a few steps, and intently stare up at one of the windows, shifting their head as if searching for a particular reflection. Then they pick up the baby again. They start doing this within a day or two of giving birth. All the windows are used for this activity, regardless of which one we are standing behind.

I cannot explain this behavior. Perhaps mothers like to have a look at their infant from a distance of more than 10 meters, without the risk of leaving him too far behind. They never stare at the windows in this particular way when carrying their baby, or when another female’s youngster is walking free. They seem to connect their own behavior (placing their offspring on the floor) to the mirror image. That they do not, like chimpanzees, use the mirror to look at their reflection may be a matter of how much interest they have in themselves compared to such attractive creatures as their new infants. Fox speculates that apes and humans may simply have reached a higher level of narcissism. (de Waal, 86-87.)
As I review the many news articles and documents generated by the Vilas monkey affair in 1997-98, I can’t help feeling a renewed sense of shock and surprise. The primate center (and by extension the UW itself) was so underhanded, so unethical, so disgustingly dismissive of public sentiment, that even now, ten years later, I’m dumbfounded by its arrogance and deep callousness. It is beyond belief that anyone could today believe anything they might claim.
Monkeys killed despite no-harm pledge
AIDS research:UW primates used for organs and tissues
Telegraph Herald. Sunday. August 10, 1997

MADISON (AP) - At least a dozen zoo monkeys were killed during University of Wisconsin AIDS experiments despite a pledge by administrators not to use them in harmful research, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The rhesus monkeys at the Henry Vilas Zoo were killed for their organs and tissue, by researchers at the UW Primate Research Center unidentified sources told The Capital Times.

UW-Madison owns the zoo's monkey house, which has about 150 rhesus monkeys and stump-tailed macaques used for observational research and public education.

The experiments occurred over a five-year period despite a June 15, 1989, letter that said the animals "will not be used in studies at our facility involving invasive experimental procedures." The newspaper said it was signed by seven primate center administrators. "Such animals will be assigned to the center's nonexperimental breeding colony, where they are exempt from experimental use." the letter said.

Primate center officials denied using the zoo monkeys for research that could harm them until The Capital Times obtained information that showed that monkeys were born at the zoo and died during research, the newspaper said.

Interim center director Joe Kemnitz said there were exceptions to the agreement that would allow some monkeys to be used in lethal research experiments.

Certain monkeys were used because they had unique qualities important to researchers Kemnitz said.

But Lenon and other officials could not produce written proof of any exceptions and zoo director Dave Hall said he could not recall any such exceptions to the 1989 letter.
After the public learned that the university had lied in 1989 when it had promised to stop using the Vilas zoo monkeys in invasive and terminal experiments and that it had continued to lie about the monkeys for eight years, the primate center colluded to some degree with the NIH, or perhaps manipulated the agency, into killing any funding for the care of the monkeys at the zoo.

In her August 13, 1997, official statement, then Graduate School Dean Virginia Hinshaw said:
The center's lease at the zoo is expected to expire in 2003, and we are currently working to find a long-term home that is best for the welfare of the animals and are committed to supporting the animals financially. But there is no quick resolution to this issue and finding an appropriate arrangement for the colony may take several years. [my emphasis, obviously]
On November 19, 1997, the UW issued a press release stating:
The National Institutes of Health will end a long tradition of funding the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center's monkey colony at Henry Vilas Park Zoo, effective Feb. 1. The decision will restrict the Primate Center from using funding from its $4.5 million base grant to maintain the Vilas Zoo colony. The facility costs approximately $100,000 a year to maintain, which includes personnel, food and supplies, and utility expenses. … "This decision puts us in a very difficult position," said Virginia Hinshaw, dean of the UW-Madison Graduate School. "The change in funding means that we have to work rapidly to find options for the colony."
When Hinshaw told the public: “we are currently working to find a long-term home that is best for the welfare of the animals and are committed to supporting the animals financially,” she was still lying, still telling the public what the university thought was expedient to tell us. The primate center and the university certainly did not then, or ever, have any commitment to the animals.

But the pure unadulterated filth of the university’s vivisectors isn’t clear until we put these conflicting lies into context. It wasn’t just the fact that the primate center had lied so baldly to the public for eight years, it wasn’t even the fact that once discovered in their lies that the vivisectors didn’t want to spend any money caring for animals that they couldn’t torture, no, it wasn’t just all that. The icing on this shit-cake was that over the period of time they were lying, they were selling the monkeys and banked somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million dollars.

This amounts to not only a lie, but in a manner of speaking, grand larceny. And, after secretly selling these animals, not one thin dime could be found to feed them, to find them a safe home, to make amends with the public, to do at least one right thing.
Uw Reports Cash From Zoo Monkey Sales
Capital Times :: Front :: 1A
Saturday, August 23, 1997
By Scott Russell The Capital Times

The UW Primate Research Center made between $200,000 and $275,000 by selling off monkeys from Henry Vilas Zoo for research, according to data released Friday by the university.

Of the 110 monkeys sold over an eight-year period, 42 monkeys went to government agencies or outside universities, such as Harvard or East Carolina University. Another 35 monkeys were sold to private pharmaceutical companies, such as Hazleton [renamed Covance] Laboratories in Madison. The other 33 monkeys were used by UW-Madison researchers.

In June 1989, the primate center entered into an agreement with the zoo that none of the zoo monkeys would be used for invasive research. University officials have not disclosed the fate of the monkeys that were sold to other institutions.

Pharmaceutical labs in all likelihood tested the monkeys with drugs.

The zoo monkeys sold for between $1,800 and $2,500 each, depending on their age, their reproduction potential and their history, according to information released Friday by the UW-Madison.

On Aug. 11, after reports in The Capital Times, Graduate School Dean Virginia Hinshaw stopped any further assignment of monkeys from the zoo colony to invasive research.

One UW-Madison project that used zoo monkeys evaluated the effectiveness of a new medication for osteoporosis, the brittle-bone disease linked to calcium deficiency. The monkeys provided one way to test for the safety of the drug for human use.

Drug company Ciba-Giegy paid nearly $1 million for the 32-month study, which used 56 monkeys in all. Of those, 12 were monkeys from the zoo, including four monkeys that were covered by the no-invasive-research agreement. Of the 12 zoo monkeys used in the project, 10 were euthanized during the research. The other two died after the project ended.

Here's where the monkeys went:

Hazleton Laboratories, 20; East Carolina University, 15; Baxter-Travenol,15; UW-Madison Harlow Primate Lab, 14; UW-Madison Clinical Sciences Center, 12.

National Institutes of Health-Poolesville, 9; Boston University, 4; University of Pittsburgh, 4; UW-Madison Department of Psychology, 3; UW-Madison Medical School, 2; Harvard University, 2.

University of Iowa, 2; University of Minnesota, 2; Vanderbilt University,2; Waisman Center, 2; University of South Dakota, 1; University of Nebraska, 1.

The money generated by the sale of the monkeys went into the center's cost recovery account, which augments a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The majority of the money for that grant pays for animal services such as food, housing and care for the animals.

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