New legislation demanding more accountability and oversight of a primate research facility in Oregon, US, has been proposed by Rep. David Gomberg. The Oregon National Primate Research Center run by Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon, has been accused of the death of two monkeys after being placed into a scalding cage-washing system, other primates’ death from neglect, workers’ low morale, and dysfunctional leadership.
Rep. David Gomberg filed a public record request to learn more about the research centre and now is behind a bill in the Oregon Legislature calling for greater transparency, accountability and oversight of the centre. He said, “reasonable people can disagree on whether using animals for medical research is scientifically valid or ethical, but we have to agree that it’s not being done very well here in Oregon…there are systemic problems within the institution that needs to be addressed…I haven’t seen anything that indicates to me that there aren’t more problems on the horizon.”
Between 2014 and 2022, the Oregon facility was cited for more violations, 31 of which were violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, than any of the six other primate research centres funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The animal rights group PETA also sought public records from this facility, but OHSU withheld photos and video. In July 2022, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge found that OHSU caused “undue delay” and unreasonably withheld videos and photos requested by PETA—including by taking steps to delete videos of deadly experiments in which prairie voles were given the equivalent of 15 bottles of wine a day.
In October, OHSU agreed to pay $37,900 to settle a federal fine for Animal Welfare Act violations between 2018 and 2021, including incidents in which a monkey was euthanized after its head got caught between two PVC pipes, voles who died of thirst, and gerbils who died of starvation.