New Iberia Research Center cleared in latest investigation

The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have dismissed an animal rights activist’s latest complaints about the treatment of some primates at the New Iberia Research Center, University of Louisiana at Lafayette officials said Friday in a news release.

In January, Michael Budkie, of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, called for a federal investigation of injuries to three African green monkeys and the deaths of two chimpanzees in 2012, and a baby rhesus monkey in 2013.

The complaint led to a site visit by USDA inspectors on Feb. 25. Inspectors found the research center was in compliance with federal regulations for animal care, the release stated.

“The USDA independently investigated all three of the claims in Budkie’s complaint and found that they had no merit,” Joe Simmons, NIRC director, said in the news release.

The center managed the incidents cited by Budkie and the cases had already been reviewed by the National Institutes Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, based on a statement by the National Institutes of Health that university officials said was released on March 6.

“These institutions are in good standing with OLAW and in keeping with the requirement for self-reporting, will report to OLAW any noncompliance with the relevant policies and regulations involving research animals, should they arise,” the NIH statement read.

The research center houses more than 6,000 nonhuman primates and holds accreditation with the American Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International.