Lawsuit Over Princeton Baby Marmoset Death
The Physicians Committee filed a lawsuit on June 13 stating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture violated the Freedom of Information Act by not providing documents on the death of a baby marmoset in a Princeton University laboratory.
The Physicians Committee requested information on this incident in 2012, but two-thirds of the pages received were entirely redacted. In the pages not entirely withheld, USDA provided an Animal Welfare Complaint submitted by a whistleblower describing an incident in which a dead newborn marmoset was confiscated and the veterinarian was not allowed to investigate the baby’s death. The federal investigators determined that the complaint was valid.
“Princeton’s research facility receives millions in public funding and the public has a right to know if the researchers’ actions resulted in the death of a marmoset,” said John Pippin, M.D., the Physicians Committee’s director of academic affairs.
The documents provided details about two other Princeton incidents, one in which a monkey possibly had an infection along the edges of a “head implant” device and another indicating that water was withheld from nonhuman primates for more than 24 hours at a time.
In the Physicians Committee’s 2011 report on Animal Welfare Act violations at Ivy League universities, Princeton ranked second worst. Starting in 2010, USDA inspectors noticed that primates held at Princeton facilities were systematically deprived of adequate water.
In addition to the death of the baby marmoset and the pregnant marmoset not receiving adequate care, Princeton laboratory personnel failed to adequately deal with postsurgical pain. Aside from the many animal-related violations, Princeton was cited repeatedly for incomplete and inconsistent recordkeeping. Other violations included the presence of multiple expired medications and the poor condition of primates’ research environments.
Despite this history of violations, Princeton received more than $36 million in government research funding in 2012.