All the monkeys at a NASA research center were put to death on the same day last year, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The animals were older, and most had Parkinson’s disease, but animal-rights activists have condemned the decision to not find them a home.
They were not being used in research, but were held there by a private drug research company renting space at Ames.
One member of Congress has called for an investigation into why the animals were put down.
Scroll down for video
All the monkeys (stock photo) at a NASA research center were put to death on the same day last year, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request
The animals ‘were suffering the ethological deprivations and frustrations inherent in laboratory life,’ said animal ethics expert John Gluck, who criticized their ‘disposal instead of the expression of simple decency.’
‘Shame on those responsible,’ Gluck told the paper.
US Representative Kathleen Rice (D-NY) told the Guardian she has been pushing for ‘humane retirement policies’ for test animals in government labs.
Rice called on NASA chief Jim Bridenstine to investigate the mass euthanasia.
In all, 27 primates at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, were euthanized on February 2, 2019 (stock)
‘I look forward to an explanation from administrator Bridenstine on why these animals were forced to waste away in captivity and be euthanized rather than live out their lives in a sanctuary,’ Rice told the Guardian.
Brindistine’s 2017 nomination by President Donald was met with bipartisan criticism because of his lack of science or engineering experience and his past denial of manmade climate change.
The US first killed a monkey in the name of space exploration back in 1948, a full decade before NASA’s formation: Albert, a rhesus monkey, was launched almost 39 miles into the atmosphere aboard a V2 rocket.
He died of suffocation during his journey, though scientists maintained it was so they could learn about the physiological effects of space travel.
Albert II, another rhesus monkey, survived his 83-mile-high rocket flight a year later , but died after a parachute failure caused his capsule to crash down to Earth.
They were not being used in research, but were held there by a private drug research company renting space at Ames. One member of Congress has called for an investigation into why the animals were put down (stock phot)
But the simians euthanized at the Silicon Valley center weren’t used to further aeronautics. They weren’t even owned by NASA.
They were held there by LifeSource BioMedical, a private drug research company that had leased space at the site.
LifeSource BioMedical director Stephanie Solis says the company had agreed to take the monkeys years ago, after their age and declining health made finding a home for them impossible.
‘We agreed to accept the animals, acting as a sanctuary and providing all care at our own cost, until their advanced age and declining health resulted in a decision to humanely euthanize to avoid a poor quality of life,’ she said.
Solis said LifeSource never conducted research on the animals and insisted they had a ‘good remaining quality of life.’
A NASA spokesperson told the Guardian the agency ‘does not have any non-human primates in NASA or NASA-funded facilities.’
According to the US Department of Agriculture, a record 76,000 monkeys were used by biomedical researchers in 2017 alone.
But the US government has moved away from using primates in experiments.
As a result, researchers say there’s a shortage for testing potential COVID-19 vaccines, according to The Atlantic.
The National Institute of Health stopped using chimpanzees in 2015 and, while scientists had been able to get simian subjects from China, the pandemic shut down exports of the animals.