SAEN Not So Sane

The Davis Enterprise ran an interesting article about a protest organized by Stop Animal Exploitation Now directed at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California at Davis.

According to The Davis Enterprise,

Protesters chanted and held signs reading, “Stop your animal torture,” “Animal research is scientific fraud” and “Better ways exist” in front of the primate center west of the main campus, at Hutchison Drive and County Road 98.

“Animals at this laboratory are sick and suffering needlessly,” said Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN.

But just how accurate are SAEN’s claims about what goes on at the research center? According to the Enterprise (emphasis added),

Aside from ongoing arguments over whether animal research is necessary, SAEN alleges staff negligence leading to stress, suffering and death of test animals at UCD’s center. The group examined necropsy reports for 583 animals that died from May 2002 through April 2003, obtained through freedom of information requests.

Budkie said many of these reports simply list the deceased animal as “found dead in cage” with no clinical history, “which tells me they didn’t even know the animal was sick.”

Capitanio said allegations of staff negligence are “categorically false,” noting that the center has six full-time on-site veterinarians, two veterinary residents, one clinical fellow, 13 animal health technicians, four enrichment coordinators and 85 animal care workers focused on the health and well-being of the animals.

Capitanio said necropsy reports only include a pathologist’s observations during an exam of the deceased animal and SAEN has “drawn a series of inferences based … on a lack of information.”

In one example of alleged neglect, SAEN cited a January 2003 necropsy report of a primate that lost 40 percent of her body weight in 22 days. However, Capitanio said this animal’s quick weight loss can be attributed to giving birth. He said the animal then developed intestinal problems that were unresponsive to treatment, so she was euthanized to end her suffering.

Or consider another complaint that Budkie brought up — apparent discrepancies in the number of primate deaths and total animals reported by the primate center to different agencies. This is a common canard that Budkie recycles regularly,

Capitanio said discrepancies in the number of deaths, as cited by SAEN, is simply a difference between calendar year and fiscal year totals.

“It’s basically a timing window issue,” Capitanio said. “They (animal rights groups) use whatever means they can to try to discredit researchers and in some cases, harass researchers.”

A difference in the number of animals reported to various agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health, he explained, is due to those agencies’ requirements. Only the number of animals involved in studies funded by a particular agency are supposed to be reported to that agency, he said.

Its not his fault — that fiscal/calendar year difference is probably too difficult for Budkie to grasp.


Protesters picket primate provisions. Sharon Stello, Davis Enterprise, July 18, 2005.

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