Primate Freedom Project Publicizes University of Wisconsin Documents on Experiments that Lead to Researcher’s Suspension

The Primate Freedom Project recently released internal documents it obtained through an open records request about an experiment at the University of Wisconsin that led to a number of primate deaths and, ultimately, the suspension of the researcher.

Ei Terasawa, a professor or pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin, received approval to do experiments involving primates to study how the animals’ brains developed during menopause.
But Terasawa’s experiment was plagued by a number of problems. In one case, a monkey died because an attendant left a laboratory for lunch during an experiment. That was just one of at least four times when animals involved in experiments were left unattended when the protocols of the experiment required that someone be present at all times.

Other monkeys involved in the research were given drugs that had not been approved by the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. In other cases, monkeys were given the correct drugs but at dosage levels that had not been approved.

According to the Associated Press, Terasawa was barred from working with animals for two years and the experiment in question was stopped. Eric Sandgren, chairman of the university’s IACUC, told the Associated Press,

It’s one of the most severe actions that the committee has ever taken.

Which seems, frankly, a mild punishment. If dereliction of duty and ignoring experimental protocols that leads to the unnecessary deaths of experimental animals garners only a two year suspension, what would a researcher have to do to be handed a more severe penalty?

Even more disturbing is that although Terasawa was suspended in 2004, her suspension and the circumstances surrounding it were never made public. The Primate Freedom Project’s distribution of the university’s internal documents on the case were the first opportunity that the public had to learn of this mess.

Not going public in 2004 about the suspension was beyond stupid. How can researchers expect to be taken seriously when they talk about their commitment to the welfare of the animals they use if they cannot even be open and honest about a case like this? Why in the world did the University of Wisconsin put itself in the position where Rick Bogle was the first person to talk to reporters and the public about the suspension of a research that happened last year?

The following University of Wisconsin internal documents are available regarding this case:


U. of Wis. Records Show High Monkey Deaths. Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press, August 16, 2005.

UW monkey deaths during experiments raise questions. Aaron Nathans, The Capital Times, August 16, 2005.

Primate Freedom Project Forms Group to Focus on Chimpanzees

The Primate Freedom Project recently announced the formation of |Stop Experimentation on and Exploitation of Chimpanzees| (the acronym is SEEC, pronounced “cease”, get it?)

Anyway, most of the SEEC material is the same old “chimpanzees share 98 percent of our DNA” rhetoric, but a press release by Primate Freedom/SEEC activist Cyn Krueger did a good job of highlighting exactly where the group places non-human primates in the order of things. From a press release titled “U.S. government engages in child abuse”,

SEEC has received information that the FDA has imprisoned 11 children and is subjecting them to biomedical research. Four 5-year-olds, a 4-year-old, five 3-year-olds, and a 21-month-old infant are the subjects of a hepatitis vaccine study at the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

That the victims are chimpanzees and not humans does not lessen the atrocity. Their suffering is much the same.

The SEEC web site, at is definitely worth a visit. For example, on their “Mad Science” page dedicated to claiming that animal research is unreliable, SEEC actually cites the antihistamine seldane (terfenadine) as one of “numerous drugs shown to be safe in the animal models cause serious harm or even death to humans.”

Seldane was marketed in the United States until 1997, and was the first antihistamine that didn’t cause drowsiness. There were a small number of deaths related to seldane due to two separate issues. First, it turned out that the recommended daily dosage of seldane could cause dangerous heart arrhythmia’s in some people. Neither the animal research nor the extensive testing of the drug in human clinical trials revealed this — in fact it wasn’t until the drug had been available for several years and was on the verge of achieving over-the-counter status that the heart-related problems became obvious and the recommended dosage levels were lowered.

Seldane also caused potentially life threatening changes in heart rhythm if taken in conjunction with some antibiotics and some antifungal medication. The drug was labelled as such and pharmacists and doctors did a good job of making sure people weren’t taking seldane with these other drugs, but inevitably there were a few deaths.

Despite its side effects, the FDA allowed seldane to stay on the market because its side effects were relatively avoidable and there was no better medication for treating allergies. Once Allegra — which is similar to seldane but doesn’t have the potentially dangerous side effects problem — was approved, seldane was quickly withdrawn.

Far from being an example of the pointlessness of animal research, seldane is an excellent example of how such research can help millions of people live better lives (as someone who has severe allergy problems, the drug was a lifesaver before the approval of Allegra and Claritin).


U.S. government engages in child abuse. Cyn Krueger, Press Release, October 21, 2001.

Mad Science. Stop Experimentation on and Exploitation of Chimpanzees, Web page, Accessed 12/05/2001.

The Primate Tour — research lab is a "concentration camp"

The Primate Freedom Tour continues
to wind its way across the country. In a stop at the University of Southwestern
Louisiana’s New Iberia Research Center, animal rights activist Jennifer
Schneider compared the facility to a concentration camp.

“As a descendant of the Jewish
people, I must speak out against the primate concentration camp at New
Iberia (and) the scientific fraud of primate research,” Schneider said
in a prepared statement.

Although the Tour hoped to
get researchers involved in a debate, the Iberia Research Center refused
to take the bait. “It is not our purpose to debate the issues,” said veterinarian
and New Iberia director Thomas J. Rowell. Not that Rowell didn’t do a
good job of deflating the animal rights claims with brochures and media
interviews that led to highly favorable coverage.

A reporter for the Baton Rouge Advocate highlighted the important work being done at the facility by
noting that, “research at the center has helped to ensure the safety and
efficacy of polio vaccines, led to the development of vaccines for hepatitis
and types of pneumonia and influenza, as well as contributed to knowledge
about Creutzfeldt-Jakob and mad cow diseases, he [Rowell] said.”

After repeating the typical
animal rights cant about alleged animal abuse at primate facilities,
the Advocate noted that,

Similar stories were told by other protesters,
although none knew of any specific examples of mistreatment of animals
at the New Iberia facility. Rowell calls some of the protesters objections
“a complete misconception.” “You have, what, a sixth-grade school teacher
that’s leading the effort?” he asked. “I’m not sure what experience he
has in science and what we do in the line of research support.”

In fact, the New Iberia’s handling
of the tour is almost a textbook case in how to defuse animal rights activists.
Rowell wisely chose to hold a press conference about the Primate Tour
a few days before the protesters arrived so that the media would be well
aware of the type of research and monitoring that goes on in his facility.

In addition, Rowell tried
to kill the activists with kindness. At his press conference he told the
assembled reporters that Primate Freedom Tour members had a right to protest
his facility and said an area near the research center would be made available
for the protesters. During the protest the university offered the protesters
water coolers, portable toilets and awning to block the sun, but the activists
refused the offer. Tour research director Rick Bogle refused the assistance,
saying, “We cannot accept it because the money they used to
purchase it has blood on it … it came from the sale of innocent primates
into torture and death .. it’s blood money.”