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OU Health Sciences Center to end baboon research in three to four years
By Page Jones, OklahomaDaily.com, September 9, 2015

OU President David Boren announced Tuesday that after an internal investigation, the OU Health Sciences Center’s Baboon Program will end its research over the course of three to four years, according to a statement from the presidents office.

Boren ordered an internal investigation in August due to the public’s interest in the care of the animals at OUHSC.

Boren made his decision based on a decreased prioritization within OUHSC and the projected financial and time costs of continuing the program, according to the statement.

The program will “wind down” over the course of several years to ensure that faculty and staff have adequate time to transition. The statement said the baboons will be treated humanely throughout the transition to ensure the animals will not be adversely affected.

OUHSC will work with its partner, the National Institutes of Health, on a transition plan and will not seek further funding from the group.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now, a national animal research testing watchdog group, said they’re happy that Boren made the right decision.

“We are thrilled that President Boren and the University of Oklahoma are doing the right thing and closing down the baboon program," Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN, said in a statement.

SAEN filed a complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in July stating that OU had violated the Animal Welfare Act after discovering the deaths of about 50 baboons over the course of a year.

Pathology reports obtained by the group through the Oklahoma Open Records Act detailed infant baboons who were cannibalized and others whose skulls were crushed.

OUHSC was cited in January by the USDA for unsanitary living conditions after three baboons were reportedly hosed down while staff was cleaning their enclosure and left at risk for hypothermia.

The Baboon Program began in 1999 as a way for OUHSC researchers to study cancer and infectious diseases. A $1.74 million research center was dedicated to almost 500 baboons and the facility was built outside El Reno, Oklahoma.

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