Princeton University Animal Research Program Passes Federal Inspection

A Marmoset monkey at the Singapore Zoo. Photo by Lionel Egger. Creative Commons license.
A Marmoset monkey at the Singapore Zoo. Photo by Lionel Egger. Creative Commons license.

A routine inspection of Princeton University’s animal research program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this month found zero non-compliant items, school officials said today.

Inspectors from the USDA made a routine, unannounced visit to the school on Aug. 4 and 5.

“Princeton’s animal research program contributes significantly to advancing the frontiers of knowledge and to saving, improving and prolonging the lives of humans and animals. It does so while upholding the highest standards of regulatory compliance and of humane and responsible treatment of animals,” reads a statement from the school.

Animals are used in research only when no alternatives exist, school officials said. The potential benefits of animal research include an improved understanding of cancer, infectious diseases, neurological disorders, spinal cord injuries, basic biological and behavioral processes, and the development of new medicines, devices and other treatments, according to researchers.

In 2015, the school was issued a federal citation for failure to secure a primary enclosure after two marmoset monkeys were found outside their cages. One was captured without incident, but the second fought with a marmoset in another cage, and both sustained injuries. The school reported the incident to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, as required by federal policy, school officials said. The school revised procedures to facilitate the observation of secure cages, performed additional training for staff and research personnel, and provided funding to buy cages that were more secure.

In a separate case in 2014, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a complaint against the university alleging that lab employees tormented a young monkey by placing it in a plastic exercise ball and rolling it down the halls for their own amusement. An investigation by Princeton University found no evidence to support the group’s allegations.