Voices for Darrell
We, the undersigned, call upon the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) for a thorough investigation of the recent, tragic death of the chimpanzee Darrell on the afternoon of Friday, January 4, 2008, at Chimp Haven, Inc.,Shreveport, Louisiana, under the direction of Dr. Linda Brent and their Board of Directors. Darrell was a healthy 28-year-old male chimpanzee before his death during an introduction to a group of unfamiliar, former laboratory chimpanzees owned by NIH. A second chimpanzee, Brad, died previously, and his death also raised questions and concerns. Despite Darrell losing consciousness three times during the introduction, Dr. Brent ordered the process to continue, including administering the drug diazepam without any veterinary evaluation or diagnosis. The drug was administered by a staff member with no veterinary training, and not even a veterinary technician was present. In addition, Chimp Haven has had no full-time veterinarian on site daily since June 2007. That Chimp Haven has been operating with only on-call veterinary support alone for eight months constitutes a violation of the Chimp Haven contract with NCRR/NIH, as well as a violation of the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act (C.H.I.M.P. Act, 2000), the federal law that provides Chimp Haven with construction and operating funds. We believe that the deaths of Darrell and Brad may have been the result of negligence, and should focus attention upon a range of incidents and problems, both past and present, at Chimp Haven, Inc., a federally funded facility paid for by our tax dollars, and whose mission is to care for former research chimpanzees after their retirement from biomedical studies. These deaths and other significant problems highlight a number of critical issues, including clear problems with animal husbandry and veterinary care, financial management, and an accompanying high turnover of personnel, among other issues, since Chimp Haven opened in 2005. As President of Chimp Haven, Inc., Dr. Brent and the entire Board of Directors, chaired by Dr. Tom Butler, DVM, are ultimately responsible for the proper oversight of Chimp Haven, and strict adherence to the mandates of the C.H.I.M.P. Act, the requirements of the Chimp Haven contract with NCRR/NIH, current regulations of USDA that govern laboratory animal care, the rigorous standards for accreditation set by AAALAC, the Animal Welfare Act, and the U.S. Public Health Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. We insist that Dr. Linda Brent, Dr. Tom Butler, and other members of the Chimp Haven Board of Directors, including Dr. Frans de Waal, Dr. Mollie Bloomsmith, Dr. Tammie Bettinger, Dr. Lee Lyton, Dr. Judy MacArthur Clark, Ms. Candy Peavy, Dr. Peter Theran, and Dr. Robert Whitney, as well as the Chimp Haven Advisory Board, which includes Dr. Kathryn Bayne, Mr. Jon Coe, Ms. Leni Darrow, Ms. Gail Laule, Mr. L. Ron Farrow, Ms. Jo Fritz, Dr. Hilton Klein, Dr. Victor Ostrower, Mr. Steve Ross, and Dr. Erna Toback, take full responsibility and recognize their culpability for the animal care and management crises that have occurred, and continue to occur, at Chimp Haven, Inc.