Friday, February 02, 2007

Student wants monkey released from UMC

A monkey that was once part of a research project that was shut down last year amid federal inspections into animal welfare issues is now at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

"The monkey is in excellent health," UMC said in a written statement. "Like all animals owned by the Medical Center, he receives daily care by a well-trained veterinary staff."

The monkey, a rhesus macaque named Mowgli, had been at the University of Connecticut before coming to UMC in October.

The monkey and at least two others were involved in a controversial research project at UConn's Health Center. The other monkeys are dead.

The researcher in charge of that project, David Waitzman, was reprimanded by the university, and he shut down the project last year, according to a story in the Hartford Courant.

Those actions came as the U.S. Department of Agriculture found violations in the lab.

Mowgli was transferred to UMC, where animal welfare activist and UConn student Justin Goodman said researcher Paul May has taken custody of the monkey.

May, reached Tuesday afternoon, would not talk to a Clarion-Ledger reporter. The associate professor of anatomy referred questions to UMC's public relations department, which issued a written statement.

Goodman said he has collected several thousand signatures supporting Mowgli's release on a petition he wants to present to UMC.

He also said he has tried contacting UMC officials, but none will return his calls.

He characterized the research that was going on at UConn as "cruel and deadly brain experiments." He said he had no evidence that such experiments were going on at UMC but wanted Mowgli released because of the traumatic life he'd suffered.

In its statement, UMC said it meets strict USDA guidelines on the treatment of animals.

Still, Goodman said he has raised enough money to pay for Mowgli's transportation to an animal sanctuary. "It doesn't cost anything to let him go," he said.

Story here.

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