SAEN LogoAnimal rights group: Princeton University's monkey handling 'deserves a serious penalty'
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Animal rights group: Princeton University's monkey handling 'deserves a serious penalty'
By Nicole Mulvaney,, May 14, 2015

An animal rights group said Thursday they are responsible for the federal citation issued to Princeton University regarding the handling of monkeys in its animal research program.

The group also said the incident "deserves a serious penalty."

The university said it reported an incident in December during which two marmosets a species of monkey living in a family unit escaped their cage and were found inside the room they were housed.

One monkey was captured without incident, but the second fought with a marmoset in another cage, and both sustained injuries, the university said. The animals received medical attention and recovered without complications.

Members of Stop Animal Exploitation Now a national research watchdog group said Thursday that they filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in April and called for an investigation after learning of the incident.

USDA inspectors conducted a routine inspection of Princeton University's laboratory animal program earlier this month and issued a citation for failure to secure a primary enclosure, the university said Wednesday.

"After an internal investigation, the university revised procedures to facilitate observation of secure cages, performed additional training of staff and research personnel and committed funds to purchase caging with a more secure design," the university has said in a statement. "The USDA noted that these items had already been corrected at the time the inspection was performed."

The inspection did not reveal any additional non-compliant items, and the USDA is expected to release a report later this month, the university said.

The animal rights group, which also monitors research laboratories across the country, says it "blew the whistle" on the university's federal law violations and urged the USDA to fine Princeton $20,000 $10,000 per escaped monkey.

Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, says the school is minimizing a series incident. University spokeswoman Min Pullan said Thursday the school had no further comment.

"Despite Princeton's efforts to falsely minimize the marmoset escape, it is clearly a serious incident and this negligent lab deserves a serious penalty," Budkie said. "Princeton's negligence is part of a growing scandal of laboratory carelessness across the U.S."

The group also takes credit for USDA citations at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania.

"Negligence at Princeton has allowed monkeys to escape and be injured. Princeton only has 42 primates, and the university can't even keep them in their cages?" Budkie said. "If they can't even keep the monkeys in the cages, why should we believe they can do science?"

In a separate case, the animal rights group known as PETA filed complaints against Princeton University in July, alleging lab employees tormented at least one young monkey by placing it in a plastic exercise ball and rolling it down the halls "for their own amusement."

An investigation by the university found no evidence to support the group's allegations. 

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