Primate Center shows little respect for animal life

The Tulane National Primate Research Center’s reaction to the infection of two primates by the Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria demonstrates a continued pattern of neglect and disregard for the well-being of its primates. 

In the most recent incident, four primates were exposed to the bacteria in November. One was euthanized in November and another on Friday. The decision to euthanize the primates was considered an act to ensure the welfare of the monkeys as a group. Yet, the Primate Center’s Executive Director Andrew Lackner expressed a disturbing lack of regard for the value of the monkey’s life when he said, “It didn’t make a lot of sense to try and do fairly extraordinary things to keep the animal around.”

The current investigation comes on the heels of a late-2012 incident when an ill primate died after being left in a transportation van overnight by the Primate Center. Following the 2012 incident, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, a national animal rights group, requested that the federal government investigate the center. At the time, Tulane reported that it took corrective and disciplinary action.

While the Primate Center took corrective action specifically related to transporting primates, it is clear from November and last week’s example that the Center still suffers from serious deficits in its policies and actions related to the safety of its primates and its communications with the community.

It is not enough for the center to take corrective action only after fatal incidents. Rather, the center should be exploring and implementing new proactive policies and strategies to ensure that their primates are properly cared for. The Center needs to instill respect for the well-being of each of its primates, from its staff to its director.

Additionally, Mr. Lackner’s failure to inform the Community Focus Group, a group he helped form to communicate information about the Center with the immediate community, is an example of an ineffective implementation of a policy that must immediately be corrected. 

For the Primate Center to say that these kinds of incidents shouldn’t happen is not enough. These kinds of incidents must be prevented.

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