The abysmal animal welfare record of the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is well documented: three stipulated penalty fines from 2007, 2010, and 2013 totaling $58,633 and a pending complaint filed by the USDA on March 9, 2015. The alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act include, among other things, the amputation of a monkey’s tail because of frostbite, the death of three juvenile monkeys abandoned for days in an outdoor chute, and the death of a monkey who fractured two fingers that had gotten stuck in inadequate caging before suffering a cerebral hemorrhage believed to be a result of the traumatic incident.
Meanwhile, the NIRC maintained a website regarding its facility—to be viewed by potential collaborators and customers—that painted a much rosier picture, purposely concealing damning USDA inspection reports. For two years, the NIRC continued to update its website with positive information, while omitting negative information. The USDA took note of this in its pending complaint: “the [NIRC] website … states ‘Below is a list of the most current USDA inspection reports...,’ but none of the inspection reports documenting the violations alleged herein is posted on that website.” More than a year after this complaint was filed, the NIRC was still hiding the very inspections cited in the USDA charges. This spring, it finally removed all inspection reports.
The NIRC’s deliberate concealment of its poor animal welfare record highlights how important it is for those in the research community to inform themselves about the records and integrity of those they work with before making a decision to purchase or collaborate.