The U.S. Department of Agriculture has fined Oregon Health and Sciences University $11,679 for the deaths of five monkeys used in animal experiments at the school's Oregon National Primate Research Center in 2009.
The USDA penalty also cites the Primate Center for the escape of nine macaques in 2009 after an employee failed to lock a door on their cage. All nine monkeys were safely captured within two days, one at a nearby apartment complex.
Three of the five macaque deaths were from wrongly administered sedatives and medication. Another two monkeys were dehydrated after a drinking-water apparatus malfunctioned.
OHSU spokesman Jim Newman says the Primate Center has made changes to prevent more deaths.
"Nobody can guarantee that a human error won't occur again," says Newman. "Our goal is to make mistakes as rare as possible. Long before the fine was issued, a lot of adjustments were made. Whenever there's an error we stop everything."
The university has built a secondary fence around the monkey pens to prevent future escapes. The school has also prepared a detailed statement of how it has responded to each death.
In 2010, WW held an extensive interview with the directors of the Primate Center, who defended their controversial animal research as humane and moderate.
"People out there think that," said Ilhem Messaoudi at the time, "you know, I take a dart gun, go out there, capture some monkeys out in the wild that were happily living together, bring them to my lab and torture the shit out of them. That's not what I do."
UPDATE, 2:14 pm: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it deserves credit for first complaining to the USDA about negligent practices at the Primate Center in 2008. It says it also called on the USDA to issue fines after the monkey escape.
"Time and again, we've revealed evidence of sloppiness and callous disregard for the monkeys," PETA vice president Kathy Guillermo said in a statement. "Now federal investigators agree with us that ONPRC needs to clean up its act."