As required by their enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, veterinary medical officers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture regularly conduct inspections of facilities that house animals for research. For three days in July 2019, the USDA conducted an unannounced inspection of animals, animal facilities and animal research records maintained by the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and College of Letters and Science. Each hosts a broad range of research and training projects that involve animals covered by the AWA. The programs include laboratories and animal housing facilities, as well as many scientists, animal care, veterinary and research staff.
For more information on the inspection, contact Allyson J. Bennett, faculty director of the UW–Madison Animal Program.
After reviewing the facilities and their records, USDA issued a citation:
1.9 C.F.R. § 2.38(F)(1)
Twice in 2019, monkeys exited their enclosures within secure rooms in UW–Madison animal facilities and were treated by veterinarians for injuries sustained while interacting with other monkeys. Improper placement of locks on the enclosures made it possible for the animals to leave.
USDA inspectors noted that the animal care staff has implemented changes to prevent exits in the future, and the rate at which monkeys slip away from enclosures or handlers at UW–Madison is very slight and continues to decline. The university continues to expect better. Animal care staff care deeply about injuries to animals and strive to minimize potential for errors, working continuously to avoid them by improving equipment, animal transfer techniques and training.
In October of 2018, a mouse was found caught between parts of its enclosure. The animal had died, likely due to lack of oxygen. The enclosure materials may have warped over time to create a gap into which the mouse squeezed, according to the USDA report, the first time an animal had been lost in this manner in the lab. To prevent a second occurrence, extra inspection procedures are in place to help ensure the fit of moving enclosure materials.
A marmoset sustained a broken leg while being handled by experienced staff in a procedure that had been performed safely and without injury many times previously. This particular injury to a small leg bone does not typically heal in the diminutive monkeys, leaving amputation as the best option for the animal’s recovery. The procedure was performed by UW–Madison veterinarians and the animal fully recovered — able to walk, run, climb and participate in social activities with its group. USDA inspectors examined the recovered monkey, noting in their inspection report that it was moving well. To prevent reoccurrence, staff reviewed all procedures and equipment to identify any potential refinements and all individuals who were involved were retrained to ensure they are adept at performing all procedures.