The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited the California National Primate Research Center for the deaths of 19 research monkeys, UC Davis announced on Friday.
The deaths of the rhesus macaque monkeys in 2009 and 2010 were related to infections, injuries or inadequate maternal care.
The USDA did not fine the center, noting improvements made at the facility. UCD said it that among the steps it has taken in recent years are adding a second daily health inspection, formed a mortality review committee and has conducted ongoing research on increasing the well-being of its colony of about 5,000 animals.
“We take our responsibility to care for these animals very seriously. We are committed to doing everything we can to improve,” said Dallas Hyde, the center’s director and a professor of veterinary medicine in a statement.
Hyde said the center’s mortality rate is comparable or better than other similarly sized facilities, including zoos. The USDA last fined the center in 2005, after an incident the year before in which a faulty room heater killed six monkeys.
The primate center is one of eight across the country in the National Primary Research Centers Program. Its research targets include HIV/AIDS, asthma, autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
Of the 300-acre center’s research animals, about 3,000 live outside in 24 half-acre corrals. With more than 500 births per year, the center is one of the largest breeders of monkeys in the federal system.
The center employs about 400 people, operating on a federally funded budget of about $10 million annually and about $24 million per year in outside funding generated by its researchers.