OU Baboon Program to Close

A research primate–breeding facility at the University of Oklahoma will phase out operations over the next few years.

Sep 9, 2015
Kerry Grens

PIXABAY, PUBLIC DOMAIN PICTURESUniversity of Oklahoma (OU) President David Boren announced on Tuesday (September 8) that a troubled baboon-breeding program at the school will shut down within four years, during which time the animals will be relocated to other centers. The facility has been cited in recent years for violating animal welfare standards.

Animal advocates were pleased with the decision to end the breeding program. “I am very grateful to President Boren for this first step,” Rebecca Bean, a Norman Animal Shelter Oversight Committee member, told The Norman Transcript. “He has a chance to shape his own legacy in how these animals are treated for the rest of their lives.”

Animals raised at the site in El Reno are used by other institutions in biomedical research. “The OU Health Sciences Center is working closely with the [National Institutes of Health], researchers and other stakeholders on a transition plan that will honor its existing contractual obligations to ensure that current biomedical research projects are completed with the least possible disruption,” James Tomasek, vice president for research at OU Health Sciences Center, said in a statement.

The Oklahoman reported last month that the El Reno facility was undergoing a “full internal review.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture had recently cited OU for filthy living conditions and mistreatment of infant baboons.

Correction (September 10): The original headline used the acronym UO for the University of Oklahoma. The correct acronym is OU. The Scientist regrets the error.