Mar 27, 2012 6:40 PM by Jenise Fernandez
The USDA began two investigations regarding chimpanzee deaths at the New Iberia Research Center last June.
The first after a primate died while being transported from Maryland to the research center in New Iberia.
In the second, three primates died after they were accidentally trapped in a chute connecting two outdoor cages. The bodies had begun to decompose in the chute and the USDA says the research center didn't follow regulations requiring workers to check on the chimps daily.
"Stop Animal Exploitation Now" executive director Michael Budkie is disturbed about what he calls a high-number of deaths at the research center.
"If they can't take care of their animals why should we believe they can follow scientific protocol?" questioned Budkie.
Budkie says 11 chimps died from trauma and/or neglect between May 2010 and July 2011.
"If an individual allowed that to happen to an animal in their care and in their home, they'd be charged with animal cruelty," said Budkie.
Budkie believes the incidents potentially violated the Animal Welfare Act, including prevention, control, treatment, diagnostics and animal handling.
"This does not paint a picture of a competently run lab. We want this facility to be fined because that's the only level of justice we can actually obtain," said Budkie.
The university released this statement: "The center has since modified its standard operating procedures to include up-to-date training records for employees, daily head counts of primates and daily supervisor visits to colony areas."
If the university is found responsible-- they could be fined up to $40,000 in the first case and up to $50,000 in the second case.