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New Iberia Research Center. Louisiana. Animal Experimentation. Abuse of Lab Animals. HSUS Undercover. March 2009.

The sun is setting on the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Louisiana. I dare say that the facility could be more aptly named New Iberia Abuse Center from what was revealed in Nightline’s report on animal cruelty in laboratories. The welfare of lab animals is entrusted to the scientists, lab workers and administrators, that the animals must be treated humanely. As Terri Moran asked, who would know if they are not?

Sunset? Well, it was reported that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack ordered an investigation of the facility based on this nine-month undercover work by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

"In light of the video evidence presented today, I am ordering a thorough investigation of animal welfare practices at New Iberia Research Center… If the allegations prove to be true, the American public can expect the perpetrators to be held fully accountable. I take the protection of animals very seriously, and will do my utmost to fully enforce the Animal Welfare Act." Vilsack.

If it ain't a sunset, it sure will be an ass-kicking. Heads will roll.

More people got into the act. Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., have asked for a thorough investigation as well. There are two individuals who have filed lawsuits against the NIRC. Neither one has met the other including the undercover investigator. The undercover videos affirm their allegations of animal abuse.

How big is the New Iberia Research Center? There are approximately 6,000 monkeys and 325 chimpanzees imprisoned in the facility which covers 100 acres. There is one salient point I’d like to raise which wasn’t covered in the report. In the nine months of undercover surveillance, only twenty of these animals were used for testing. Now, don’t start feeling good about that because the rest are just warehoused or used for breeding. Millions of dollars of American taxpayer money have been spent on warehousing and breeding. Yup, you paid for it, not the NIRC’s clients.

BTW, one of the chimpanzees is Karen. She was taken from the wild in 1958, and has lived in a barren cage since then. I was born in 1957, and so I can easily fathom the length of time that Karen has been imprisoned. Practically, my entire life, Karen has been caged and abused. Abused? Listen, if they are not free, they are abused. We have no right to detain or hold captive a living, sentient being simply because they are animals and we are human.

Not surprisingly, none of the facility’s administrators were willing to appear on camera for a comment. They, however, issued a statement: "We are driven by high standards and ethics and believe the videos distort acceptable standard procedures and incorrectly imply mistreatment of nonhuman primates at the New Iberia Research Center."

Videos don’t usually lie. Even in the face of incontrovertible evidence, NIRC chose to deny the harsh realities that exist at their facility. Deny and hope it will go away. We’ve seen that strategy before. Unfortunately for the animal abusers, there has been a change in government in Washington and part of that is a new secretary of agriculture who is sympathetic to animal welfare. If my memory doesn’t fail me, it is the secretary of agriculture who is responsible for implementing the animal welfare act. Violations include drugged animals falling off shelves, hitting chimpanzees on their teeth with steel pipes because they refused to open their mouths, transporting the chimpanzees unprotected, and many more.

It is worth mentioning that the National Institutes of Health has given the NIRC $18,000,000 of federal funding to do their research for them. The payments were made between 2000 and 2009. The NIH declined to appear on the report, but they issued the same old lame excuse that animal experimentation has saved countless human lives. I don’t accept this argument. I don’t think it is right to condone animal abuse if it will benefit humans. In this case, the end does not justify the means.

And how about saving countless animal lives? How about freeing longtime inmates? How come that option hasn’t been explored yet?

This argument that it is for our own best interest is the skirt behind which animal abusers hide. If so, then are federal guidelines to follow. Laboratories, universities, and the scientists who perform the tests have been caught violating them. The NIRC is just the latest example of federally funded animal abuse, exposed only after an undercover investigation. Otherwise, they will always insist that all is well in animal experimentation. What a farce!


wlturland said…
Please take the time to suss out the truth of this story rather than regurgitating what Nightline has fed you. KATC, KLFY and The Daily Advertiser are all keeping up with the story at their respective websites.

Thank you.
Chessbuff said…
Thank you for your comment. Of course, we should not take the media’s version as the irrefutable truth, but Nightline’s report is not their own. The NIRC will not be defending against Nightline’s report, but against allegations of animal abuse by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The HSUS is a non-profit, pro-animal rights organization. Although the HSUS wants to spread the word, to educate and inform the public on animal welfare, their work does not constitute sensationalism which I think is your gripe. The video is pretty damning, and I don’t think we’ve seen the whole of it. If I recall correctly, on the HSUS’ website, the NIRC is charged with over 300 violations. Then, add the two independent lawsuits against the NIRC plus the testimony of the undercover investigator, and you’ve a very serious challenge to NIRC’s respectability and innocence. There will be an investigation, and the NIRC will have the opportunity to refute all the allegations and prove me wrong.
Anonymous said…
I am 56, health issues made me a prisoner of my couch for 8 years.
I feel for the Chimpanzees that have spent decades in cages, in research.
I plead with you to write all of your state representatives, and help them get into sanctuaries.
Anonymous said…
Obviously according to the investigation, the feds did find mistreatment of the chimpanzees. I find it hard to understand why humans do not feel compassion for these chimpanzees, and monkeys. Have we become so high tech and sophisticated, that compassion and empathy have no place in our modern day world?
Dee said…
I discovered your post when I was searching for information about NIRC. Actually an article was sent to me about NIRC that mentioned a cause I am deeply involved in, that of helping a 9 year old Siberian/Bengal tiger named Tony who lives at a truck stop in Grosse Tete Louisiana. I thought you maybe be interested in Tony's story. I found you post about NIRC very informative and I honestly had no knowledge of this "facility" before. For more information about Tony: (Big Cat Rescue's page for Tony)

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