Monkeys in Dane:
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Monkeys in Dane: Overview

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Monkeys in Dane:Overview

What is the issue?

A large and growing body of evidence strongly suggests that monkeys experience the world like we do. The scientific evidence strongly suggests that monkeys and humans have very similar feelings and minds.

This similarity raisesimportant ethical questions about our use of them. More monkeys are used in Dane County than in any city or other county in the United States. More monkeys are used in Madison than in any European nation.

How many monkeys are used?

Figures on the use of animals in laboratories are never up-to-date. The data is reported to the United States Department of Agriculture by the facilities using them, and then, eventually, the USDA reports to the public.

The numbers of monkeys represented in the graphs here come from multiple sources: The USDA/APHIS Animal Care Annual Report of Activities for Fiscal Year 2007, Appendix 1 (the most current data available; current numbers are likely higher.) USDA/APHIS annual reports for Covance and UW-Madison. And, The need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices. European Commission Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), 2009.

Where are the monkeys?

The simple answer is that they are hidden.

The three largest populations are at Covance, the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, and the Harlow Primate Psychology Laboratory.

Covance at 3301 Kinsman Boulevard near the Dane County Regional Airport, reported using 7,313 monkeys in 2007. Most, if not all, were wild-captured. The US Department of Fish and Wildlife Service's live primate importation records from January 1 to June 30, 2009, list Covance as the number one importer of monkeys.

Only two companies imported more that 1000 monkeys during that seven month period. 5,577 were imported by Covance (most of these animals probably ended up here in Dane County, and 2,648 were imported by Boston-based Charles River.

Wisconsin National Primate Research Center at 1220 Capitol Court, just off Regent St, is part of the University of Wiscosnin-Madison. Most of the monkeys used at the primate center are from their breeding program. The primate center reported in 2008, that it had 1,570 monkeys on hand.

Harlow Primate Psychology Lab at 22 North Charter Street, just a few feet away from the primate center, is also a part of UW-Madison. In 2006, they reported having 500 monkeys on hand.

How are the monkeys used?

At Covance, most of the monkeys are used in short-term terminal studies. Covance is a contractor that conducts drug and product toxicity experiments for pharmaceutical, chemical, and consumer product manufacturers. Their clients and the details of what they do are highly guarded secrets.

On two occasions, undercover investigators have videotaped the daily activities inside Covance monkey labs. One was in Virginia and the other was in Germany. These videos are available on the Internet.

Most of the monkeys used by Covance are probably killed within a few months of their arrival.

At UW-Madison, at both the primate center and at the Harlow lab, some of the monkeys are killed shortly after being experimented on, but many are used for years on end. See the list of experiments here.

Unlike Covance, some (sometimes many) details of the experiments at the university are available to the public. One way to find out about these experiments is to use the National Institutes of Health's on-line search engine: RePORTER.

What can we do?

Every citizen who cares about this issue can make a difference. Start by subscribing to the Alliance e-alerts, and keep an eye on our current issues page.