Photo by Robin May

In the face of calls by an animal rights group for the stiffest penalties allowed by law, the director of the New Iberia Research Center says he does not expect the facility or UL Lafayette to be fined.

“Everything was corrected immediately,” Dr. Joe Simmons, NIRC director, says in a press release following the call by Stop Animal Exploitation Now, an Ohio-based group that this week highlighted details in a U.S. Department of Agriculture report in early August finding three incidents at NIRC involving monkeys, one of which died as a result of injuries.

Simmons characterizes that fatal incident as a “freak accident” in which a female rhesus macaque’s hand got lodged between a meal conduit and another part of her enclosure, an accident that, according to Simmons, has occurred only one other time in 30 years. The other incidents included a monkey breaking her arm while in an enclosure and five others escaping from an enclosure, although the university says the animals remained confined to the room where the enclosure is housed.

SAEN Director Michael Budkie says UL clearly didn’t improve operations at the facility since agreeing to pay a $38,000 settlement to the USDA in March of this year in connection with the 2011 deaths of three monkeys and an injury to a chimpanzee. “It is obvious that the last fine levied by the USDA had no impact on ULL’s compliance with federal law,” Budkie says. “Clearly this facility must receive additional citations and the maximum fine allowable under the law.”

UL began retiring the more than 300 research chimpanzees at NIRC last year, sending the primates to a sanctuary in north Louisiana.

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