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March 22, 2011

Infant Deaths and Potential Fraud Exposed at Chimpanzee Lab

  • An undercover investigator photographed this baby chimpanzee at the New Iberia Research Center. HSUS

Look into the bright, innocent eyes of baby chimpanzees and it’s impossible to imagine how anyone could harm them.

Yet the largest chimpanzee laboratory in the world—New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana—has been breeding chimpanzees, likely in violation of a federal grant agreement, and leasing the infants for harmful experiments.

In fact, at least 150 chimpanzees have been born in this dismal laboratory in the last decade.

Horrific deaths

Records show that 14 of the 150 baby chimpanzees born at New Iberia were attacked by adult chimpanzees and died horrific and traumatic deaths. Their deaths were likely caused by overcrowding and negligent management practices, which led to unstable social groups and increased rates of infanticide. We documented these awful conditions during our undercover investigation at New Iberia.

The descriptions of the babies’ deaths are difficult to read [PDF]. In one case, there was so little left of the body of "A0A004" that the facility was unable to complete a necropsy (animal autopsy) report. Many had several broken bones in the head and face as well as other areas of the body.

Terrible fate

The remaining baby chimpanzees are not the lucky ones.

In some instances, infants are torn from their mothers soon after birth, causing lasting psychological trauma for mother and baby. And, unless the federal government intervenes, all of these chimpanzees face decades of confinement in barren laboratories.

Justice sought for chimps

New Iberia has already received at least $10 million from the federal government to maintain a colony of government-owned chimpanzees—and this endless cycle of funding continues. As part of their primary grant agreement, New Iberia has agreed not to breed chimpanzees owned or funded by the federal government. However, through public records we have uncovered evidence suggesting that as many as 123 of the infants born at New Iberia over the last decade were bred using chimpanzees owned by the federal government.

In an effort to bring New Iberia to justice, we have filed legal petitions with the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. If the petitions are successful, New Iberia could be required to pay $30 million in damages and stop breeding government-owned chimpanzees. In addition, we have asked that the government halt all funding to New Iberia's chimpanzee colony, and send all federally-owned and unlawfully-produced chimpanzees at the facility to permanent sanctuary.

View our legal petition to the Department of Justice here [PDF] and our legal petition to the Department of Health and Human Services here [PDF].

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