BERKELEY'S NEWS • OCTOBER 01, 2022

‘It’s shameful’: USDA cites UC Berkeley laboratories for dehydration of monkeys

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CAROLINE LOBEL | SENIOR STAFF

The USDA cited UC Berkeley laboratories after a macaque monkey was discovered dehydrated.

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JUNE 19, 2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, cited UC Berkeley laboratories after a macaque monkey was found with “sunken eyes, crumbling stool and no urine” — symptoms consistent with dehydration.

According to the USDA inspection report, the monkey was on “water regulation” and was made to follow a “water schedule.” After reviewing the monkey’s records, the USDA found laboratory staff failed to follow the water regulation section of the protocol.

According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, campus officials self-reported the incident to the USDA and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. Following the USDA investigation, UC Berkeley was cited May 18.

The dehydration of a monkey in UC Berkeley laboratories is just one of the incidents mentioned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, in a formal complaint to the USDA filed May 12.

“The laboratories at Cal have a history of violations so while it’s always a shock to see how animals have suffered in laboratories, we find that universities that violate regulations are repeat offenders,” said Kathy Guillermo, the senior vice president of the Laboratory Investigations Department at PETA, in an email. “Unfortunately, the citations are not good deterrents.”

According to Guillermo, the USDA is the only governmental agency that inspects laboratories and these inspections only happen once or twice a year.

Guillermo alleged in the email anytime PETA investigates a laboratory, either undercover or through public records requests, they find “atrocities” such as animals who were “starved to death, burned on heating pads, and strangled on chains hung near their cages.”

“It’s a daily occurrence across the country,” Guillermo said in the email. “It’s shameful.”

According to Gilmore, UC Berkeley has a “well-established track record” of self-reporting animal welfare incidents.

Following campus’ own investigation and review by UC Berkeley’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, campus laboratory personnel were provided with training. Additionally, research protocols have been updated in order to prevent future incidents of animal welfare violations, Gilmore said.

“We acknowledge the seriousness of these incidents,” Gilmore said in an email. “We consider any animal care violation of policies or protocols to be serious, and individuals who violate those policies are subject to disciplinary action that can include consequences as severe as loss of employment.”

According to the USDA investigation report, two additional incidents involving dehydration among macaque monkeys occurred despite the laboratory staff’s retraining. The USDA investigation report also notes an incident in which a collar placed around a macaque monkey’s neck was too tight, causing skin lesions.

According to Guillermo, the monkeys are kept in enclosures the size of kitchen cabinets — deprived of bedding, structures to climb and play on, friendship and the “communal society” they need. Guillermo added these animal experiments have been proven unnecessary, alleging that over 90% of basic research that involves animals fails to lead to treatments for humans.

According to Guillermo, the other incidents listed in PETA’s original complaint were clear and serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

“If the USDA does its job properly, the university will be cited,” Guillermo said in the email. “It should lose its license to keep animals.”

Clarifications: A previous version of the article referred to the laboratories as Berkeley labs. In fact, it is UC Berkeley labs — not to be confused with Berkeley Lab, which is a Department of Energy National Laboratory and not affiliated with the experiments cited in the article.

Contact Anna Armstrong at 

LAST UPDATED

JUNE 21, 2022


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