Monday, December 3, 2007

The Vilas Monkeys (Part Four)

The Vilas Monkeys (Part Four): 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 Four

The Refusal to Accept Responsibility

To review: On June 15, 1989, UW Primate Center Director Robert Goy and six senior staff members signed a written statement promising that monkeys at the zoo and from the zoo would not be used in “invasive experimental procedures.”

On April 18, 1990, the new Primate Center Director, John Hearn, reconfirmed the agreement in writing, “I confirm that the existing and future policies of the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center are that any animals bred at the zoo are used in non-interventive behavioral research or for breeding purposes only.”

And on February 1, 1995, Jonn Hearn again confirmed, in writing, the UW policy:
We also reviewed our agreement (since 1989) on the study of animals at Vilas and when they return to the Center. These animals are studied in non-invasive research or assigned to our breeding colony. Investigative procedures include those, with no damage or consequence to the animal required for veterinary health or routine procedures used in human medicine. These procedures cause no physical or sensory deficit and are all fully in compliance and previously approved through the required regulatory steps of the university and Federal employees. In cases where animals are no longer suitable for breeding, they are either assigned to our aged rhesus colony, again for non-invasive work, or euthanized humanely. In cases where animals do not meet criteria for genetic health or inbreeding, similar procedures apply. In cases where exceptional circumstances require a different use, for example unique genetic characteristics requiring more detailed investigation for human and animal health, we will review the proposal in advance with you.
During the summer of 1997, the public learned that the university had been violating the eight-year-old agreement for almost eight years and had used at least 201 monkeys inappropriately and banked over $200,000 in the process. The university admitted that the violations were a “serious breach.”

In spite of all of this, the university refused to take responsibility or to affix blame. They lied to the residents of Madison for eight years, allowed at least 201 monkeys to be hurt and killed after promising not to do so in writing, on three separate occasions, and then violated the agreements again openly and very publicly by having most of the remaining monkeys shipped to Tulane university for use in its invasive and terminal primate experimentation.

And no one was ever held accountable. No one took responsibility. Upon being caught in such a big lie, they continued lying, protected each other, and sent the remaining monkeys off to be killed, all the while lying anew about how the monkeys would be used there and saying in public meetings that Tulane was very excited about having such large intact social groups to study.

They lied repeatedly, in writing, and in public presentations to a multitude of reporters, citizens, Dane County committees, and the entire Dane County Board of Supervisors. The university’s response to being caught in such a long series of lies was to keep lying, to make up more lies, and to refuse to do anything remotely resembling making amends.
Officials associated with the Henry Vilas Zoo say they are concerned about the UW's reluctance to determine who authorized invasive research on dozens of monkeys raised at the zoo.

"One of the things expected of a person as an elected official is makingsure answers are provided," said Madison Ald. Napoleon Smith, who serves on the Dane County Zoo Commission. "Only the university can provide those answers, so we're all awaiting them." Earlier this month, The Capital Times reported that invasive experiments were conducted on dozens of monkeys raised at the zoo, despite written promises by UW Primate Research Center officials that the monkeys would not be harmed.

Primate center officials initially denied that large numbers of monkeys were being transferred from the zoo and used for invasive research. (Message To Uw: Come Clean Monkey Violations Upset County, City, Zoo Officials. Capital Times. Wednesday, August 27, 1997.)
And, the lies have not slowed down one iota as we can readily see by comparing the cases of Jennifer Hess and Ei Terasawa (here, here, and here) with university’s oft-intoned mantra that they treat the animals well and with respect and concern.

A sad message in all of this is that no matter how much the University of Wisconsin, Madison lies to the public about its use of animals, the public forgets almost immediately, or doesn’t pay attention in the first place.

Fool me once shame on you. Fool me continuously; I must be an idiot, which of course, is exactly how the university views the average Madisonian.

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