An animal research center was fined $15,000 for animal care problems linked to the death of a monkey, federal authorities said Monday.
Yerkes National Primate Research Center, part of Emory University, denied any willful wrongdoing, but agreed last week to pay the penalty, said U.S. agriculture department spokeswoman Jessica Milteer.
A Yerkes spokeswoman noted the research center reported the monkey's death, and said the center is committed to humane care for animals. "We deeply regret that an animal died," said the spokeswoman, Lisa Newbern.
Yerkes, one of eight federally funded national primate research centers, has about 3,400 primates at two locations. Its scientific contributions include new understanding of monkey and chimp behavior and development of an experimental AIDS vaccine.
The fine stems from findings from two inspections. The USDA reported unsanitary conditions during a January inspection of its 117-acre Lawrenceville field station. A July inspection confirmed inadequate training and veterinary care at its Atlanta campus, after the macaque died there.
The macaque — a short-tailed monkey — died from emphysema and from an absence of gas in the lungs, Newbern said. The death was related to incorrectly assembled anesthesia equipment, she added.
The equipment has been relabeled, staff members have been retrained, and sanitary conditions at Lawrenceville have been improved, she added.
The fine is not enough, said Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, an Ohio-based animal rights organization.
Yerkes received about $40 million in 2006 in federal animal research funds. "Why should Emory care about a $15,000 fine?" Budkie said.