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Alamogordo chimpanzees at Texas Biomed in ‘excellent health’

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) oversight team has found that the 14 chimpanzees transferred from the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) in New Mexico to Texas Biomed’s primate center in 2010 are “in excellent condition and receiving appropriate husbandry and veterinary medical care.”

In addition, a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report found “no non-compliant items.”

“We are extremely pleased with the findings by these two oversight agencies.  They have affirmed  that we are providing excellent living conditions and care to these animals, which are available for use in research that is vital to improving health around the world,” said John L.VandeBerg, Ph.D., director of Texas Biomed’s Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC). The animals may be involved in studies of treatments and vaccines for ailments such as hepatitis B and C.

The inspection reports were the result of a joint visit on September 7, 2011 to the SNPRC where the chimpanzees are housed.

The two reports respond to a petition made on August 10, 2011 by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to the USDA “to investigate the Southwest National Primate Research Center for violations of the Animal Welfare Act regulations governing the handling, care and treatment of nonhuman primates. As set forth in the petition, the 14 chimpanzees transferred from the Alamogordo Primate Facility are in such poor health that the SNPRC is incapable of providing for their physical and psychological well-being, in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.”

Instead, the NIH found that the 14 chimpanzees were:

  • Housed in their original compatible social groups (the same composition as at APF) and appeared to be calm, well-adjusted and comfortable.
  • In excellent health.
  • Housed with compatible mates and receiving ongoing environmental enrichment.
  • Living in housing compliant with the provisions of federal guidelines.

In addition, the inspectors found that an active pest control system is in place; food areas are clean and orderly; records are thorough and well organized; and all 14 animals are in a holding protocol with no research studies currently underway.

The NIH team also found that: “The husbandry, behavior and veterinary teams are extremely well trained and experienced to handle chimpanzees of all ages and are extremely attentive to the needs of the animals.”

“The unfounded accusations of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are outrageous,” said VandeBerg. “It is a pity that taxpayer money must be wasted on expensive site visits to investigate allegations that have no basis in fact.”