The U.S. Government has recently uncovered a series of careless incidents in the primate research department of Harvard University, and the esteemed college is now, quite literally, paying the price. After intensive government investigation, Harvard is being fined a grand total of $24,036 for eleven total violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which occurred between 2011 and 2012. Of those eleven, four involved deaths.
These deaths did not occur out of cruel and unusual studies, but rather out of careless accommodations, as was the case of one monkey who happened to be playing with a toy attached to a chain, was consequently ensnared by the chain, and suffocated to death. Another two became dehydrated when its water dispenser malfunctioned and, beyond the point of recovery, had to be put to death by the researchers. Yet another died when its cage was power-washed with alkaline chemicals while it was still inside.
Officials are making an effort to insure that further mistakes of this nature will not be made. Along with the fine, the government has ordered a change in leadership to prevent future mishaps. Harvard is accepting the punishments and systematic modifications without resistance, school officials knowing full well that such careless abuses were worthy of severe consequences. In fact, it released a statement saying that it recognizes its mistakes and believes the punishments to be just. Employing a remorseful and sincere tone, it claims “the leadership of the school cares deeply about upholding standards of care.” Still, animal rights activists desire further retribution, considering the fines to be minimal. The public has remained vigilant toward Harvard since the revelations, ready to pounce on the school again at the slightest hint of injustice; and it seems its prayers for further contention have been answered.
Newly disclosed are records of two additional accidents, namely a monkey who had escaped its cage, suffered cuts to its hand and tongue, injured another monkey, and bit a researcher, as well as a monkey who had wedged its leg between the bars of its poorly designed cage and fractured it. The animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, through legal methods outlined by the Freedom of Information Act supposedly uncovered these new violations. Though some sources claim that the school itself revealed Harvard’s new offenses.
Due to the newly discovered infractions, executive director Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now thinks the school owes much more than $24,036. “In light of the fact that Harvard is a repeated offender with a significant history of Animal Welfare Act violations which have had serious consequences for animals including death and traumatic injuries,” he says, in a letter to the Agriculture Department, “I must insist that at the completion of your investigation into these incidents you levy the largest fine allowable under the Animal Welfare Act against Harvard, or $10,000 per non-compliance.” Whether the government will enforce this is not yet determined.
– Jesse McMilin