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USDA cites Harvard's primate research center in animal death

Harvard Medical School officials promised to improve conditions at the school's research center after a federal report cited a number of problems involving the treatment and condition of its animals -- including the death of one primate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture report listed five citations at the New England Primate Research Center in Southborough, The Boston Globe reported on Wednesday.

The citations, including one issued in the death of one primate in October, involved concern over the center's enclosures and hair loss and unusual behavior of its four monkeys. The report said the research facility had corrected all of its citations.

The primate’s death, which happened after the animal escaped from its cage in October, was the second animal death at the facility in 2011, according to the Globe. In February, a primate died at another Harvard facility after anaesthesia was improperly administered, the Globe reported.

According to The Telegram & Gazette newspaper of Worcester, Mass., USDA spokesman David Sacks said no action has taken place and he didn’t know if an investigation would ensue.

“Is five a pretty large number of non-compliances? It is. But are they reaching a level of egregious mishandling or systemic problems in terms of inhumane treatment of animals? I don’t see that here,” Sacks told the Telegram.

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