OKLAHOMA CITY — A national research watchdog, called Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), is insisting that the University of Oklahoma convert its baboon facility into a sanctuary.
OU decided, after allegations that they were mistreating their baboons, that it would shut down the facility entirely.
“The University is committed to treating baboons humanely and with a high level of care throughout the transition to ensure that baboons will not be adversely affected by these changes,” a statement from the university said.
SAEN was pleased with the decision, but is now calling on the university to turn the facility into a baboon sanctuary, rather than sending the primates to another research lab. They say it would not be beneficial to send the baboons elsewhere because “many other major primate lab facilities in the U.S. have a history of breaking the law.”
“This is especially true for one lab that could be considered an option for the baboons by the NIH, the Texas Biomedical Research Institute…TBRI, which currently houses over 1400 baboons, has a long history of negligent primate deaths including baboons,” SAEN wrote in a letter.
To no avail, the watchdog has repeatedly tried to contact OU President David Boren.
A letter from SAEN strongly urged a meeting with OU to discuss the matter, noting:
“(T)he University of Oklahoma has received over $22,000,000 from the National Institutes of Health in the last ten years for the baboons. It is also likely that OU received funding from other sources for supplying baboons. In light of the income generated for OU by the baboons, we believe that the University of Oklahoma has a moral and ethical obligation to provide for the needs of these baboons for the rest of their natural lives.
Therefore, we must insist that the University of Oklahoma examine the possibility of transforming the current OU baboon facility into a baboon sanctuary. As we have stated previously, we would be happy to assist in this process and are again requesting the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this matter.”
The animal rights group says it has “a wide range of resources and experts, including primatologist and OU graduate Bob Ingersoll, to thoroughly research the possibilities that this situation presents.”
It is believed that if OU were to give the 676 baboons a sanctuary, the university would be “setting the standard for how research facilities live up to their obligations to the animals.”