An animal rights organization is accusing the University of abusing and neglecting primates.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now filed a federal complaint for an internal investigation this week.
According to University documents obtained by SAEN, multiple incidents of escapes and self-mutilation have occurred in University primate labs over the past several years.
The organization’s executive director Michael Budkie said he’s recently filed complaints against numerous animal research organizations across the country.
“The University of Michigan had issues similar to the University of Minnesota as far as problems with nonhuman primates essentially going crazy due to drug addiction experimentation,” he said.
University Academic Health Center spokeswoman Molly Portz said the University hasn’t received a formal complaint from SAEN.
University researcher Marilyn Carroll, who runs the labs in question, said the monkeys are fine.
Her research focuses on developing behavioral and pharmacological methods of reducing and preventing drug abuse.
According to the neuroscience graduate program’s Web Site, “animals are trained to self-administer drugs that humans abuse.”
Carroll said her research has been approved by the University and it’s legitimate.
“It’s all very finely done research, carefully done,” she said. “The monkeys are healthy and happy.”
The United States Department of Agriculture hasn’t received the complaint either, and spokeswoman Jessica Milteer said not all complaints require inspections of research facilities.
“Sometimes we receive complaints and there is no validity – sometimes there is validity,” she said.
She added that not all incidents in complaints violate the Animal Welfare Act, and the USDA only inspects legitimate violations of the act.
The battle between animal rights organizations and Carroll’s lab has history.
According to a Minnesota Daily article published in May 2000, Student Organization for Animal Rights members were involved in numerous disruptive demonstrations on campus.
They locked themselves to the doors of research buildings, sat in cages in front of Moos Tower for 91 hours straight and protested outside Carroll’s home.
Portz said the past protests targeted primate research in general, but that doesn’t mean the research is unethical.