Just a few days after news that 125 Harvard students were under investigation for allegedly cheating on their
take home exam, America's most illustrious and ivy-swaddled university has earned another ocular contusion — the Department of Agriculture has cited Harvard Medical School for mistreating lab animals, and thereby violating the U.S. Animal Welfare Act. Moreover, both Harvard University and Harvard Medical School earned the ignominious distinction of making Stop Animal Exploitation Now!'s top-10 list for animal welfare violators in the first half of 2012.
Four monkeys have died in Harvard Medical School labs in less than two years, the most recent incident occurring this spring when a cotton-top tamarin died of thirst for want of a water bottle. The Harvard hellmouth lab, however, isn't reserved only for the lower primates — 41 deer mice died of thirst in April when their water source was mysteriously "cut off." Michael Budkie, executive director of the non profit group Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, described the problem at Harvard's labs as pervasive and said that something about how the labs are run really needs to change, like two years ago.
When you see multiple incidents at the same facility over a period of time, that's when you realize that this is indicative of a system-wide problem.
Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey S. Flier ordered an independent review in March to evaluate the treatment of lab animals, and the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS is currently investigating the death of five monkeys at the Harvard-affiliated New England Primate Research Center. For any former or current lab students with dreams of letting all the dissection-bound frogs free, this seems like a good opportunity to...well, not to jailbreak any lab monkeys because 28 Days Later taught us that nothing good can come from that, but maybe to start preparing for the ape uprising because it seems like that's just got to happen eventually.