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Lab responds to PETA's monkey abuse allegations

Updated: 1.40 p.m., Dec. 7, 2011

The U.S. headquarters of Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories responded Wednesday to msnbc.com's request for comment with a statement that doesn't refer to the specific allegations but which notes its facility is routinely inspected and that it has a "zero tolerance for the mistreatment of any animals under our care." Read the full statement (.pdf) here.

Original report:

PETA

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, released this image that it says shows a monkey with a surgically attached tube at a biomedical lab in Everett, Wash. Experimental chemicals were continuously infused into its veins through the tube, PETA said a whistleblower alleges.

A multinational biomedical lab was the focus of a federal complaint filed Monday by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which said a whistleblower had come forward with images and accounts of abuse of test monkeys.

PETA urged the federal Animal Plant and Inspection Service to investigate the U.S. headquarters of Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories, saying it was contacted by "a whistleblower who resigned her position at SNBL in 2010 after working there for several years." 

Shin Nippon's U.S. headquarters, based in Everett, Wash., has yet to respond to msnbc.com's request for comment on the allegations.

Use of animals for testing of new drugs and other medical applications is allowed in the U.S. but must adhere to the health and safety provisions of the federal Animal Welfare act.

PETA said the whistleblower had requested anonymity but quoted her as saying that when it came to drawing blood for tests "the monkeys wince, scream, tremble and shake, and try to defend themselves. Eventually, many of the monkeys stop fighting and reacting … it is like the life is gone from them."

In its complaint that the Animal Welfare Act was violated, PETA states that the reports by the whistleblower include:

PETA

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, released this image of a monkey with a bruise allegedly taken at a biomedical lab in Everett, Wash. PETA says a whistleblower alleges monkeys were routinely bruised but not treated for injuries.

  • "Employees at SNBL used excessive force in their handling of monkeys, particularly when putting monkeys into squeeze cages, wherein a sliding cage wall is pulled forward to restrain the monkey against the front of the cage. Employees would use so much force that monkeys suffered with bloodied noses and bruises to their bodies. Sometimes, the monkeys would suffer broken fingers and toes. Careless workers frequently injured monkeys by slamming the cage doors onto their tails. Some tails would become bent or deformed, and would be left that way, while other tails were broken so badly that they had to be amputated."
  • "Many studies at SNBL require that blood be drawn from the animals at frequent intervals—generally, at the following time points after the animal receives the test drug: 1 minute, 5 minute, 10 minute, 15 minute, 30 minute, 1 hour, 2 hour, 4 hour, 6 hour, 8 hour, 12 hour, 16 hour, 24 hour, 36 hour, 48 hour, and so on. According to the whistleblower, by the 30 minute mark, the animals' veins would have ruptured and for blood draws past this point, veterinary technicians poke and dig into the arm or leg many times to get blood—resulting in much swelling, redness, and bruising."
  • "In one set of experiments, monkeys were attached to their cages with a metal tether which was surgically attached to their bodies and, through which ice cold saline solution and test compounds were continuously infused into the monkeys’ veins. The monkeys were hooked up in this manner for many months; they would shiver and chatter their teeth non-stop through this time."

PETA also cited fines over the past decade against the lab, as well as an incident where a monkey died when it was left inside its cage while it went through a hot-water cleaning process.

While PETA opposes any animal testing, even that authorized by the federal law, it pursues legal action under that law "to shed light on especially egregious and illegal activity," said PETA's Justin Goodman, who works on lab investigations.

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