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Harvard Lab Announces Intent to Retire Monkeys Following PCRM Complaint

PCRM has invoked the Endangered Species Act against a Harvard University laboratory that neglected and killed two cotton-top tamarins. In response to PCRM’s complaint, Harvard says it will send the remaining tamarins—a critically endangered monkey species native to Colombia—to sanctuaries or wildlife refuges. You can help by asking Harvard to immediately set a release date.

The complaint filed on July 12 points to a history of primate injuries and deaths at Harvard’s New England Primate Research Center, and calls for retiring the approximately 167 remaining cotton-top tamarins to sanctuaries.

Harvard Medical School issued a statement saying, “…efforts are underway to permanently relocate [the cotton top tamarins] to other institutions, such as wildlife preserves or sanctuaries.”

PCRM’s petition requests that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigate and penalize Harvard for violations of the Endangered Species Act and retire all of the approximately 167 cotton-top tamarins to sanctuaries that provide them with a safe, stress-free environment.

In February 2012, laboratory personnel found a cotton-top tamarin exhibiting “unusual behavior,” according to a federal inspection report. There was no water bottle in the cage, and the tamarin was so severely dehydrated that the attending veterinarian decided to euthanize him.

In June 2010, a cotton-top tamarin at the center was sent through a cage washer and found dead in the cage after the cycle. The complaint points out that scalding, high-pressure water and harsh chemicals are used during the typical 15- to 20-minute wash cycle, and the monkey, if alive when he entered the washer, would have sustained high-pressure third-degree burns on his entire body before dying.

Harvard is already being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for several violations of the Animal Welfare Act. At least six other primate deaths and several injuries have occurred at Harvard-affiliated facilities in the past two years. The federal government has sent Harvard an official warning notifying the school that it is in violation of animal welfare regulations.

To ask Harvard to immediately send the tamarins to a sanctuary, visit



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Tamarin used in labs

To ask Harvard to immediately send the tamarins to a sanctuary, visit

PCRM Online,
August 2012

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