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.

Dec 20, 2013
Bob Grant

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.