The Life of Prisoner r80180
from the files of the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center (WRPRC)
r80180 is a Rhesus Macaque, Macaca mulatta, a species found in the wild from Afghanistan east to China and Vietnam. She was born on Dec. 31, 1980 at WRPRC and was still alive as of March 8, 2002, the last entry date in her historical records provided by WRPRC. Thus, she has been imprisoned for all of her 21+ years of life! Apparently, r80180 was conceived a female but was made a hermaphrodite by being injected with androgenizing hormones prenatally. When referring to r80180, I will use female pronouns.
During r80180's first 9+ years at WRPRC, she was used primarily as a source of blood although for what purpose is unclear. Also, she was weighed almost monthly probably as an indicator of general well being. In June 1988, she tested positive for B virus but negative for SRV-1, SRV-2, SIV, CMV, EBV, and measles viruses. Subsequently, she tested negative for B virus in Oct. 1989.
From 1989 through Nov. 1992, vivisectors continued to draw blood regularly, apparently to test for tuberculosis. The anesthetic, ketamine, was also given intramuscularly each time TB testing was done.
In late 1992, r80180 was part of a study titled "Ovarian Dysfunction in Female Rhesus Monkeys."
Blood was drawn frequently and general anesthesia (usually ketamine) was injected approximately 21 times over the next five and a half years in preparation either for ultrasound examinations (probably of her internal reproductive organs), TB testing, an MRI, or DXA scan. Also during this time frame, she received a laparotomy - a surgical incision in the abdominal wall - and was examined, probably her ovaries, with an optical device called a laparoscope.
Probing of r80180's reproductive organs continued from July 1997 through mid-1999 when she was made part of yet another research project titled "Endometriosis MRI Scanning." More ketamine, blood draws and another laparotomy followed as a result. Also, two more TB tests, including one of her right eye, were made. Whether or not r80180 had endometriosis - inflammation of the uterine lining - is unclear from WRPRC's records. However, a physical exam revealed the presence of a firm mass in her posterior abdomen."
In August 1999, she was made a test subject in a project named "DNA Profiling of Primates Used in Biomedical Research." At this time a physical exam revealed a mid-abdominal mass in addition to the caudal abdominal mass found earlier. The exam also showed that she had kyphosis - an abnormal outward curvature of the spine creating a humpback appearance.
There is no rest for a primate at WRPRC. From October 1999 through the end of January 2000, r80180 was put in a study called "Oocyte Competency in Prenatally Androgenized Monkeys." Records reveal that in November, she suffered from diarrhea for about 11 days. A rectal culture and stool sample were collected and showed none of the common pathogenic bacteria but the presence of three parasitic species -trichomonas, amoeba, and entamobea coli. Apparently the diarrhea was treated successfully with antibiotics. During the oocyte study she was given approximately 23 doses of human FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) recombinant and one dose of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) recombinant probably to stimulate her ovaries to develop eggs and to stimulate the lining of the uterus. Numerous blood draws and a diagnostic ultrasound of her abdomen and lower body wall were also made. In January 2000, she was given her third laparotomy, this time apparently to remove eggs from her ovaries.
Vivisectors at WRPRC never seem to draw enough blood from their primate victims, so once again r80180 was a donor as part of a project called "Clinical Blood or Surgery" from February 2000 through August 2000. During this time she tested negative for four different viruses, but the kyphosis remained and she demonstrated reduced range of motion in her hips and stifles as well.
She also suffered from another bout of diarrhea for at least two days and there appeared to be no change in the sizes of her mid-abdominal and posterior abdominal masses detected in 1999.
Starting in July 2001, r80180 was used in two projects, one called "Andronized Female Rhesus as Model for PCOS" (sic) and the other, "Ovarian Dysfunction in Female Rhesus Monkeys," the same project for which she had been used in 1992. For the latter project, she was again injected with more HCG recombinant. A physical exam during this time detected a possible endometriosis type adhesion. For some reason her hand and foot were x-rayed and she had CAT and DEXA scans, all while under general anesthesia. In December 2001, records show that she was accidentally dosed with a drug called azithromycin (zithromax), but the effects, if any, were not logged.
[Note: PCOS, or Polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a fairly common condition occurring in approximately 5%-10% of the adult female poulation. It is associated with infrequent and irregular menstruation commencing at puberty. The National Library of Medicine has over 4000 scientific papers related to PCOS cataloged on line; fewer than 10 are based on data from monkeys, suggesting that the value of such work has been generally acknowedlged to be insignificant. PFP.]
Aside from the usual regimen of blood draws, the last notation in r80180's record notes that she continued to display lumbar kyphosis and decreased range of motion in hips and stifles, but now also had mild enlargement of her liver. Could all those doses of ketamine be the reason?
During her 21+ years of experimentation at the hands of the vivisectors at WRPRC, records show that r80180 had blood drawn approximately 191 times and was anesthetized with ketamine or some other general anesthetic approximately 45 times through 3/8/2002. One does not have to have a medical degree to predict the health effects of so much anesthetic.
Biomedical researchers try to convince us that knowledge gained from animal studies can be extrapolated to humans yet their scientific papers reporting the results of research repeatedly include a disclaimer warning about making such an assumption. Yet, vivisectors at WRPRC want us to believe that the pathology of organ dysfunction in non-human primates is the same as those in humans. Actually, the best they can say is that research on primates is applicable to primates. For much of r80180's life she has been used for research investigating primate reproductive function. Would you go to a veterinarian if you had problems with your reproductive organs? Certainly not!
Animal "models" of human disease are erroneous because of the cellular and biochemical differences among different species. The best way to study diseases of humans is to conduct noninvasive and painless research on humans. This can be accomplished by a variety of methods. For example, increasing the number of human autopsies, which due to higher costs are undertaken less frequently than in the past. Virtually every disease has either been discovered or clarified by autopsies. Technological advances in the biological and physical sciences like CAT, MRI, and PET scans have yet to have their full potentials tapped. Conducting epidemiological studies of human populations using high-speed computers has identified all known environmental poisons and occupational hazards. Clinical research - observing and analyzing patients' conditions - has always been a vital component of medical investigations. Examples of diseases treated successfully as a result of clinical studies are innumerable. Post-marketing drug surveillance is yet another non-animal method. This is a system of reporting all of the effects and side effects of a medication after it has been released to the public. Health practitioners could detect and prevent the dangers associated with negative drug reactions. Many other effective non-animal methods are available in addition to these.
In addition, animal species routinely used in research have the capacity to feel pain, to enjoy pleasure, to think and act purposefully, and to prepare for future events. In short, they have degrees of self-awareness and lives that are important to them beyond any utilitarian purposes they may have for humans. To incarcerate them and subject them to painful research, even if such research may afford some benefit to humans, is unethical and immoral. If we are willing to subject animals to pain and agony in and attempt to improve our health, then what we lose in return, our compassion and empathy, is far greater.
How many more primate victims like r80180 must be sacrificed before we say 'enough'? Actually, we are already past that point!
This accounting of r80180's life was written by Bob Tintle. Mr. Tintle wrote to WRPRC for r80180's records and brought his story to light. The Primate Freedom Project is thankful that Mr. Tintle and other concerned citizens are gathering information about the primates imprisoned in the nation's labs and calling attention to their misery. Such stories underline the fact that suffering-filled lives are the norm within these institutions.
Speak out. Your silence signals your acceptance.