Researchers at the University of California, Davis did not mistreat seven monkeys who died in their care after a building heater malfunctioned, according to a report released Monday by the university.
The report dismissed allegations raised last year by a former employee who said researchers routinely abused monkeys at the university's primate research center. In the report, campus investigators called the allegations "unfounded, out of context or too vague to be pursued properly."
"Our initial reaction to these claims was that they were baseless, but I nonetheless felt it appropriate to request an investigation," center director Dallas Hyde said in a statement.
Cheri Stevens, a former animal care technician at the California National Primate Research Center, said seven monkeys died in the summer of 2004 after the building's ventilation system failed. She said officials did not respond to her requests that the monkeys be moved even though the room's temperature climbed to about 115 degrees.
Stevens, speaking last fall during a news conference convened by the activist group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, also complained of routine mistreatment and starvation of the monkeys.
Michael Budkie, executive director of the Ohio-based group, called the UC Davis report a whitewash and said there needs to be better national oversight of primate research.
"To begin with, the people that are conducting this investigation are the very people who would be on some level at fault if there was any admission of impropriety," Budkie said.
The investigation was led by the university's attending veterinarian and members of the campus Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
The university paid a $4,815 fine to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in December 2005 because of the monkeys' deaths.