SEATTLE, Wash., February 22, 2022 – PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, called upon Seattle Police Department Chief Adrian Diaz, today February 22, requesting an investigation of University of Washington’s (UW) Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) concerning allegations of destroying videos and photographs of primates used for experimentation, a class C felony under RCW 40.16.010.
The view the letter in its entirety click here.
In December 2021, the King County Superior Court held the primate center liable based on its destruction of these records as part of PETA’s lawsuit against UW for its refusal to turn over videos and photographs of monkeys used at the WaNPRC for alleged “experiments.”
Senior WaNPRC personnel, Elizabeth Buffalo and Eberhard Fetz and the facility’s interim director, Sally Thompson-Iritani, admitted under oath to the center’s policy of systemic destruction of these videos and photographs according to PETA.
As a federally funded institution, destroying photographs and video is an infringement of the state’s Public Records Act, which mandates disclosure of public records to preserve transparency and accountability by public officials and institutions. The judge in the case stated, “The lack of any policy/system which identified videos/photos which are being destroyed prevents [UW] from complying with the requirements of the [Public Records Act].” It also appears to violate another state law that criminalizes “injury to [a] public record.”
“WaNPRC experimenters would rather risk breaking the law than risk allowing the public to see what they do to monkeys in their laboratories,” PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said. “PETA is calling on the Seattle Police Department to take immediate action and, if warranted, file charges against anyone who destroyed public records.”
PETA also filed a complaint today with the Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), alleging that the WaNPRC violated the Record Retention and Access section of the NIH Grants Policy Statement by destroying the records and apparently flouting state law, according to a news release.
PETA is asking the Seattle PD for an investigation, repayment of the millions of taxpayer dollars used to fund these hidden experiments, and the permanent barring of WaNPRC from receiving future federal grant awards.
The Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) is one of seven remaining flagship primate centers established in the early 1960’s and continuously funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), with satellite facilities located in downtown Seattle and Mesa, Arizona.
The center first began operating in 1961 and includes the following divisions: AIDS-Related Diseases, Global Programs, Neuroscience, NHP Systems Biology, and other related research support cores. Key areas of research at the facility, according to its website, include infectious diseases, neuroscience and brain disorders, and reproduction and endocrinology. The facility housing over 1,500 primates according to National Primate Research Centers.
In 2021 the University of Washington received $527,499,672 in NIH funding, slightly lower than its 2020 amount of $533 million, for research and training.
History of Negligence
In 2019, an experimenter at the facility insisted a surgery be proceeded on a monkey that had not been properly fasted the night before, resulting in the monkey entering respiratory arrest and dying.
In that same year, a monkey undergoing a painful procedure was given a diluted opioid analgesic resulting in inadequate pain relief. Through an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture it was found that the medicine cabinet had been left open and the opioid had appeared stolen.
In 2018 a pigtail macaque strangled to death when he became untangled in a chain attached to his cage.
In 2016 a monkey died while undergoing an MRI but the cause of death could not be determined because the facility failed to maintain appropriate records. In less than a month later, an eight-year-old pigtail macaque died from dehydration when her watering line had not been properly fastened to her cage. The reported found that the animal did not have water for at least 48-72 hours.
In 2015 three monkeys died due to significant health issues as a result of medical documents that were not adequately filled out.
In three separate incidents in 2013, baby pig-tailed macaques were attacked and sustained extensive traumatic injuries, and either died or were euthanized.
In 2011, the USDA fined the UW $11,000 after a pig-tailed macaque was found, dead in her cage having lost over 25 percent of her body weight – she starved to death.
In 2008 the UW was fined $20,000 for conducting unauthorized surgeries.
According to the Office of Animal Welfare at UW, only three incidents of non-compliance were reported to the USDA for 2021 at the Seattle facility – all were in January. Rabbits did not receive the required daily checks, a nonhuman primate was left in a trapping run for at least 12 hours without access to food or water, and two nonhuman primates escaped their cages and were treated for injuries.