The USDA is investigating the deaths of 13 macaques from hyperthermia in a south Texas research facility due to room overheating.
The first two animals died in September when a thermostat malfunctioned and caused the room temperature to rise. A month later a similar incident caused the deaths of another 11 primates.
According to a November report by a federal inspector, plans to install temperature alarms were drafted and the rooms will be monitored manually until they are installed.
The USDA is considering actions against the lab which can go from a warning letter or fine to the facility having their license revoked.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now executive director Michael Budkie asked the USDA to fine the lab more than $100,000.
“The negligence which allowed primates to literally be cooked to death on two separate incidents deserves the maximum penalty. These monkeys suffered horribly, dying unnecessarily, and this facility should pay the price.”
Budkie also filed complaints about this lab in 2011 and 2012.
The University of Washington is also under investigation for the deaths of three baby monkeys who were attacked by older males in separate incidents.
A November report states that the lab should have made sure no other baby monkeys were harmed after the first incident on May where a 1-month-old macaque was attacked within 15 minutes of being introduced to her new breeding group along with its mother.
The second attack occurred less than a month later when a 6-month-old was attacked and later died of his wounds.
All adult males were separated after the second incident but a 9-month-old was attacked by one of the males through the mesh that separated the cages.
According to Stop Animal Exploitation Now, the lab could be fined up to $10,000 per infraction. The organization is also seeking additional citations for Unqualified Personnel and Environmental Enhancement sections of the Animal Welfare Act.
“The UW is clearly a career criminal as far as animals are concerned,” said Budkie. “The USDA should throw the book at this negligent lab.”