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INVESTIGATION: Mice baked to death and primates kept in a room with the lights on 24-hours-a-day at U.S. Government Labs

Mice were left to die from hunger and thirst when researchers forgot to put food or water in their cages for a week. Primates were kept in a room where the lights were on 24-hours-a-day for nearly five months.

AMELIA WYNN: ‘Shocking animal welfare conditions have been uncovered at US government labs. Mice were baked to death after a heating system failure, or left to die from hunger and thirst when researchers forgot to put food or water in their cages for a week and nobody noticed. Primates were also kept in a room where the lights were on 24-hours-a-day for nearly five months because a facility manager was said to be overworked. One vet failed to provide any care to a female owl monkey used for breeding after she became seriously ill and lost a fifth of her bodyweight, eventually succumbing to heart failure, fluid in the chest and abdominal hemorrhage…

A total of 31 internally reported incidents have come to light thanks to a freedom of information request made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They took place at a variety of centers performing research in areas including diabetes, child health, mental health and more – mostly out of Bethesda, Maryland but also some at a facility in Hamilton, Montana… Repeated violations of policy show that this system is inherently flawed, said Alka Chandna, PETA’s vice president of laboratory investigations cases.

On no fewer than five occasions, mice starved or dehydrated to death because employees forgot to give them food or water… Other examples spoke to serial incompetence, said Chandna, including one where a dog sustained skin burns from an electric blanket used because the procedure room was too cold, but staff failed to monitor its use. On another occasion, 13 mice baked to death after a heating system failure left them in 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38C) overnight.

In July 2018, an experimenter injected 15 zebrafish with a salt solution, even though this procedure had not been approved. Four of the zebrafish died immediately. Three weeks later, the procedure was repeated in 18 fish – even though the protocol had still not been approved. Eleven of these fish were euthanized and seven were found dead. Few incidents led to serious repercussions: A facility manager who allowed primates to remain in a room with the lights on for five months was ‘counseled’ and directed to monitor the lights daily, a report said in March 2018…

Federal research facilities are subject to the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, which in turns mandates compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, a landmark law signed by former president Lyndon Johnson 1966. Unlike labs in universities and private facilities, they are not subject to site inspections by the US Department of Agriculture and are meant to regulate themselves’. SOURCE…

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