s93052 is a stump-tailed macaque, a member of the species Macaca arctoides. These monkeys are rarely used in research today although they are claimed to be good models of male-patterned balding.
s93052’s story is exceptional. He is one of the very few monkeys ever to escape from a U.S. government-funded primate laboratory with his life.
s93052 was born on July 14, 1993 in Madison, Wisconsin, at the University of Wisconsin-hosted Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center (WRPRC). Like other baby stump-tailed macaques, he was cream-colored when he was born. Stump-tailed macaques mature more slowly than do rhesus macaques and remain with their mothers for an extended period. Like other macaques, these highly social animals live in stable groups organized along matrilineages with social ranks transferred from mother to daughter.
Records kept by WRPRC on individual animals are cryptic and sparse. Records state that s93052’s mother was st0338 and his father was st0355. WRPRC began using s93052 when he was 34 days old. He was assigned to a project titled: Hair Growth in Juvenile. No details of the study are known.
On or about July 31, 1995, just after his second birthday, s93052 underwent his first skin biopsy. No reason for the biopsy is given though it may have been a part of the Hair Growth study.
Another skin biopsy was performed on October 18, another on November 27, and another on April 16, 1996. They noted that he had a wound on a finger of his left hand that might have been infected.
On June 25, and again on June 27, s93052 had two more skin biopsies.
On July 9, 1996, a remark was made in s93052’s records that he had diarrhea. Over the next 31 months, s93052 was reported with diarrhea 113 times. “Diarrhea” is by far the most frequent comment in his records.
s93052 did not always have diarrhea. The primate center’s veterinarians tested him for a variety of diarrhea-causing microorganisms and began treating him. First with Flagyl, an antibacterial drug, for six days, and then with Pepto-Bismol for another six days. Then they tested him again for diarrhea-causing microorganisms but the tests came back negative again so they gave him the antibiotic, erythromycin, twice a day for seven days.
Eleven days later, on September 24, 1996, the diarrhea returned and was persistent. This time, treatment was not begun for some time though many remarks (29 entries) concerning his illness were entered into his records.
On February 20, he had another skin biopsy.
It was not until March 19, 1997 that treatment for the diarrhea was resumed. Again, the lab results had come back negative. This time, they treated him with enrofloxacin, a veterinary antibiotic, and Pepto-Bismol every day for a week.
Three days following his last dose, the diarrhea was back.
On May 1, he had another skin biopsy and another on June 3, and another on July 17.
After another 37 comments about his diarrhea, more lab tests were performed. Two amoeba species were identified: Iodamoeba butschlii and Entamoeba coli. Both live happily in human intestines without causing illness.
On October 14, 1997, they began treating s93052 again. This time with Pepto-Bismol alone, for six days. Two days later, the diarrhea was back, and they put him back on the Pepto-Bismol.
The pattern continued. A week of Pepto-Bismol, a day or two later, more diarrhea. Then more Pepto, then more diarrhea. At the end of one Pepto course, a note is made that he had “normal stool. [G]ood response to peptobismol (sic) therapy.” The next entry: “diarrhea.”
On December 10, 1998, s93052 had a vasectomy.
On January 6, 1999, after another Pepto-Bismol course, a note was made: “Diarrhea gone resolve case.” The next entry is “diahrrea.”
On January 11, “pulpotomies” were performed on all four of s93052’s canine teeth.
The Pepto-Bismol treatments, broken by bouts of diarrhea, continued until February 23, 1999, at which point they started giving him Flagyl again, and continued to do so until February 28, three days before they shipped him to Texas and declared: “Feces consistency normal treatment complete resolve.”
From s93052’s records, we know that during the nearly six years he was under WRPRCs control, he was chemically restrained with Ketamine on 24 occasions and that he had at least 10 skin biopsies. We cannot tell what his living arrangements were. Whether he was caged with another monkey or caged alone, is undisclosed. We do know that he had diarrhea for over two and a half years. The fact that the specialists at WRPRC were unable to cure s93052’s diarrhea suggests that their claims of curing human disease by studying monkeys are unlikely to yield real results. If the extent of their understanding of the physiology and pathology of a monkey results in treating years of chronic diarrhea with Pepto-Bismol, then claims of insight into HIV/AIDS and other human maladies must amount to nothing.
s93052’s move to Texas was a godsend. According to the sanctuary director, s93052 now “resides happily at the National Sanctuary for Retired Research Primates with 18 other stumptails. He has blossomed into a beautiful male. He has had no medical problems since he has been in with other stumptails in a large natural enclosure.” Perhaps his diarrhea had been stress-induced by the highly unnatural conditions monkeys are forced to endure in the labs.
s93052, you have our best wishes.
s93052’s story could not have been told without the efforts of Ms. Lori J. Korell, a Primate Freedom Tag wearer and primate advocate from Minnesota. Her efforts on behalf of s93052 have helped open the window into the daily lives and experiences of monkeys held in the nation’s premier primate laboratories.