Four Harvard research monkeys have died following numerous animal welfare violations since 2011. The US Department of Agriculture said that it has now fined the Harvard Medical School $24,000 for the violations.
An in-depth government probe has been focusing on the Harvard University animal research labs in Massachusetts, which are due to close soon. The penalty from the department cited 11 incidents in which lab staff, who were not properly trained or qualified to handle the Harvard monkeys, mistreated them.
In February 2011, for example, a member of the lab team gave a monkey too much anesthetic and caused it to die after its liver failed. Other citations noted that the poor Harvard monkeys were even deprived of water and were chained dangerously in their cages.
The University accepted the hefty fine and said that the four unfortunate deaths of the monkeys have caused Harvard to look into its practices when it comes to handling animals.
Harvard said in its defense: “The leadership of the School cares deeply about upholding exemplary standards of care and attributes these outcomes to the excellent work of those members of our community who took aggressive action to institute rigorous quality improvements that benefit animal safety and welfare.”
The well known animal rights group PETA doesn’t think that the fine will have any long term effect, though.
They said in a statement: “For an institution that receives $185 million annually in taxpayer funds alone, half of which is used for experiments on animals, a $24,000 fine for years of abusing and neglecting monkeys won’t motivate Harvard to do better.”
Whether or not the fine as a result of the Harvard monkey’s deaths will persuade the University to buck up its ideas when it comes to the touchy area of using animals for research remains to be seen. Especially considering it’s a practice which many feel should be abolished altogether.