May 12, 2000
Vervet monkey I.D. #9382
On May 10, 2000, animal #9382 was scheduled to be used in a study
at UCLA. This study required transferring the animal consciously
from its vivarium cage, in room [deleted] to a primate transport
The transfer procedure involves securing a primate transport cage
at the entrance of the vivarium cage. Next, the vivarium cage
squeeze mechanism is engaged in order to position the animal and
direct it into the transfer cage.
This transfer procedure was developed and approved by the [deleted]
as the primary means for transferring a conscious male Vervet
monkey into a transport cage. This procedure has been used successfully
for several years at [deleted]. Subsequently, this procedure has
been adopted by the UCLA Primate Research personnel and the UCLA
Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine. It has been in use here
at UCLA successfully for several years without incident.
While transferring animal #9382 from its vivarium cage to the
transport cage, the animal began biting the metal vivarium cage.
Biting has been observed previously with other Vervet monkeys.
After the animal was secured in the transport cage, it was observed
that the animal was bleeding from its mouth and was having difficulty
opening and closing its mouth. Initially it was believed that
the animal had either bitten its tongue or broken a tooth from
biting the cage. The animal was then anesthetized and examined
by UCLA Veterinarians. It was concluded that the animal had a
fractured maxilla. This was very surprising as we did not notice
any particular action that resulted in this condition. Furthermore,
this was a standard procedure that had been used for several years
without any injury to any animal.
We suspect that the animal’s head was either struck by
the metal vivarium cage door as he entered the transport cage,
or, that he banged his head against the side of the metal vivarium
cage before entry into the transport cage.
Upon recommendation of the attending UCLA veterinarians, the animal
was euthanized and perfused. Its brain was removed for tissue
analysis. This animal brain has been added to our control subject
cohort for studies on basal ganglia function in non-human primates.
We have altered our transfer procedure to ensure that this outcome
will never occur again. Specifically, if the animal shows any
resistance during the transfer procedure, it will be administered
a low dose of the anesthetic Ketamine, and then safely transferred
into the transport cage. The animal will then be monitored in
the procedure location until it has fully recovered from the anesthesia
and before participating in any conscious study.
The medical report above, in spite of its claims to the contrary,
suggests that the primates used by UCLA are subject to rough
treatment, which we believe is a common occurance at such facilities.
Daily exposure to suffering has been repeatedly shown to desensitize
those exposed regularly to it.
The document was part of a partial response by the University
of California Los Angeles (UCLA) to an
open records request filed by a UCLA honors student seeking
information on the use of primates by her university. A small
portion of the information she requested at the beginning of
the 2002 school year was released months later only after repeated
requests, much determination, and public protest. The university
has not released a census of the primates at the university.
This report has brought to light a facility hitherto overlooked
by us. The name of the facility seems to vary depending upon
the source of the information. It is referred to variously as:
the Vervet Research Center, the Sepulveda Valley Nonhuman Primate
Research Facility, the UCLA-VA Vervet Monkey Research Colony
(VMRC), or simply, the Sepulveda Primate Facility.
It is located next to, and administratively associated with,
the Veterans Administration Hospital in Sepulveda, California.
Documents from UCLA suggest that there are at least 500, and
perhaps more than 700, vervets held there. Infant mortality
is said to be high, but is offset by the larger number of births.
The population is increasing.
The medical record above was included among documents associated
with UCLA researcher William P. Melega, PhD. UCLA received $341,097
in FY 01/02 from the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
to support Mr. Melega's research. The funded project was begun
in 1997 and is marked for funding through March 2005. At the
end of the period, his research will have generated over $1.5
million for UCLA.
Mr. Melega studies the long-term effects of methamphetamine
injections in vervets.
"The results will show that in nonhuman primates
... [the effects of methamphetamine] ... are only
To the best of our knowledge, Mr. Melega is the only scientist
in the world who has, or is, using vervets in methamphetamine
experiments. This single point exposes the myth that a particular
animal species is chosen as an experimental model for any reason
other than accessibility. Further, it mocks a foundation of scientific
investigation, reproducibility, since vervets are uncommon in