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!