OHSU Investigates Possible Sabotage at Oregon Regional Primate Research Center

04/19/01    Portland, Ore.

Officials notify local authorities and NIH Office of Laboratory Welfare.

Oregon Health Sciences University is investigating a series of possible acts of sabotage at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center on OHSU's west campus. During the past two and a half months, technicians at the primate center have discovered lines carrying drinking water to monkeys in one animal care building had been repeatedly shut off. During the months of February and March, water shutoffs occurred in 14 rooms on 12 different days. Depriving animals of water could cause dehydration and has the potential for causing serious harm.

In addition to the water shutoffs, during the past two weeks, primate center staff have noted several other incidents of possible sabotage. Animal medications have been hidden from technicians, and cage locks have been removed from cages in six different rooms. Again, in these situations, animal welfare was put at risk but not affected.

Because it is unlikely that these incidents were attributable to human error, officials at the primate center began to more closely monitor animal care procedures and to take additional precautions. OHSU Public Safety began an investigation and has notified local and federal authorities. In addition, OHSU notified the USDA and the Office of Laboratory Welfare, a component of the National Institutes of Health that oversees animal welfare in labs across the United States.

"In the past, maintaining water access for our monkeys has never been a problem. With this sudden turn of events, we have reason to believe that this is the act of a saboteur," said Art Hall, D.V.M., a veterinarian that oversees animal care at OHSU.

Editors: While access is restricted to animals, the primate center is willing to demonstrate its water delivery system and how it was disabled. Please contact Jim Parker at 503 690-5301 for more information.

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