February 4, 2016
After several years of controversy over a colony of baboons held by the University of Oklahoma (OU), the university announced in September that the facility will be shut down over the next several years.
But the fate of the approximately 750 baboons hangs in the balance. Please send a letter to OU President David Boren requesting that the baboons be retired from research and instead sent to reputable sanctuaries to live out their lives in peace.
Since 2001, The University of Oklahoma has operated one of the largest baboon breeding and research programs in the world, receiving millions of taxpayer dollars from the U.S. government. The facility received over $2 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 2015 alone. OU breeds and houses about 750 baboons at its Fort Reno Science Park who are leased or sold to researchers for experiments.
Exterior OU baboon facility
Photo credit: Oklahoma NewsOn6.com
Last year, as part of its mandatory report to the USDA, OU admitted at least 51 of their baboons have died since 2013. Some of these baboons died brutal, potentially preventable, deaths. For example, a young male was crushed to death during transportation, and a malnourished mother killed and ate her own infant.
Many of the deaths were newborns or very young who were apparently killed by attacks from older, aggressive males. Disturbingly, these deaths were unknown to caretakers until their mangled bodies were discovered. All of this paints a very troubling picture of a facility unable to provide adequate care for its animals.
In response to public outrage, OU President David Boren ordered an internal investigation of the baboon program last August. On September 8, President Boren announced that the university would phase out the baboon colony within the next three or four years.
While the OU baboon program's days are numbered, the baboons themselves are still in danger. Hundreds of baboons need a place to go when the program's supporting grants expire, and their fate still is unclear.
OU officials are currently working with the NIH to determine whether to send the baboons to other research laboratories or to sanctuaries. Primate experts and advocates have pointed out that the current El Reno facility is well-suited to the baboon’s housing and could serve as a sanctuary with minimal modifications.
Please send your polite letter to OU President David Boren, asking that all of the OU baboons be retired from invasive biomedical research and be released to live in sanctuaries. The letter will also go to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, since NIH maintains ownership of the baboons.
Thank you for taking action to spare these animals from future lives in a laboratory.
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