Harvard Fined for Animal Welfare Violations

The US Department of Agriculture has penalized Harvard Medical School more than $24,000 for animal welfare violations involving monkeys used for research.

By | December 20, 2013

A wild Rhesus Macaque in IndiaWIKIMEDIA, J.M. GARGHarvard Medical School will have to pay a $24,036 fine violations of the Animal Welfare Act involving research primates at its New England Primate Research Center in Southborough, MA. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) fined the school after a lengthy investigation of 11 violations that occurred between February 2011 and July 2012. In some cases, monkeys had to be euthanized after becoming dehydrated when employees of the research center failed to notice faulty watering devices or simply forgot to include water bottles in animals’ cages. One macaque died in April 2012 when it became entangled in a chain within its enclosure.

“The leadership of the school cares deeply about upholding exemplary standards of care,” read a statement from Harvard Medical School, released Wednesday (December 18).

Fining animal care facilities is a relatively rare enforcement tool used by the USDA, but some animal rights activists are decrying the size of the citation. “For an institution that receives $185 million annually in taxpayer funds alone, half of which is spent on animal experiments, a $24,000 fine for years of abusing and neglecting monkeys won’t motivate Harvard to do better by animals,” Justin Goodman, a spokesman for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote in an e-mail to The Boston Globe.

Harvard announced in April that it would be shuttering the New England Primate Research Center—which houses approximately 2,000 monkeys—by 2015, claiming financial reasons led to the decision.

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Avatar of: Ken Pimple

Ken Pimple

Posts: 43

December 20, 2013

I agree with PETA for once - this seems to be a very small fine. A thorough investigation probably cost more than $24K.

Avatar of: FJScientist


Posts: 28

Replied to a comment from Ken Pimple made on December 20, 2013

December 23, 2013

Agreed Ken. Having dehydration occur shows an obvious failure within the animal facility of persons (staff and overseers) conducting their jobs. In this instance, it was so severe that animals even were dying from dehydration.

The institution needs to be fined more heavily and prevented from passing those additional costs back through a) increased animal care recharges to the researchers or b) increased indirect rates to the granting agencies. Accountability must be clear to the university.


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