Washington National Primate Research Center

October 26, 2021

Media Coverage FAQs

The Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) has long been a focus of anti-science extremism. The mission of these extremist organizations is to end all research that involves animals. We all know however, that in the absence of viable nonanimal alternatives, ending animal research would also mean an end to life-saving medical treatments, interventions, and cures from disease. We at WaNPRC are committed to advancing scientific knowledge and medicine as well as veterinary science and medicine through ethical and humane laboratory animal research.

Below we provide factual answers to questions raised by the most recent campaign of misinformation.

Media Coverage FAQs

What is the University and WaNPRC’s response to the recent news coverage about the breeding facility in Mesa, Arizona?

Claims appearing in recent media reports are meritless or are misleading due to the omission of important contextual information.

How does WaNPRC respond to claims that the WaNPRC broke interstate transport laws and failed to notify the Washington Department of Agriculture that any of the monkeys were infected with Valley fever?

We acknowledge that we made an administrative error and are aware that we are required to contact the Washington Department of Agriculture. We missed this during an internal transfer of some of our animals from our Arizona facility to our Seattle facility. This oversight, although unfortunate, did not result in any negative outcomes as a result of the shipment, and this process has been corrected moving forward.

What about the claims that the Arizona breeding facility animals all have Valley Fever, among many other diseases?

Valley Fever (VF) is a fungal disease found in arid regions of the world including the Southwestern United States. Similar to humans and pets, nonhuman primates can become exposed to VF and develop a positive antibody titer. In Arizona, as a preventative measure, all animals that test positive receive daily treatments. A very small percentage of these animals (<1%) develop clinical symptoms related to Valley Fever and are treated appropriately by our Veterinarians.
Nonhuman primates, like humans, are susceptible to a variety of diseases. We can assure you that if any of our animals ever become ill, we provide prompt and decisive intervention to ensure they return to good health as soon as is possible. All animals receive regular medical examinations, including the surveillance for Valley Fever, by qualified veterinarians and have detailed,  well-characterized health records. Based on the health histories of animals, individual researchers determine if a particular animal is suitable for their research.

Does this disqualify them for use in research?

No. Animals bred at the Arizona breeding facility are screened by qualified veterinarians who work together with researchers to develop protocols and identify animals that best fulfill the needs of the study and the questions being addressed.  Some study designs may need to incorporate exclusion criteria such as age, weight, genetics, prior treatments or health history. However, in most studies, these variables are included in the study design and then balanced between study groups to better model the diversity one finds in the human population. In contrast to mice that provide only limited insight into human disease, nonhuman primates have diverse anatomies, physiologies and immune systems that mirror the diversity we see in humans. This is one of the reasons they are considered the best model to study human infections and other diseases and to develop new therapeutics or vaccines. The heterogenous nonhuman primate species available at the Arizona breeding facility models the diverse human population and studies performed with these animals have had significant impact in understanding human disease and in developing new treatments and vaccines.

Can you address the claims that chemical runoff called perchlorates from a missile manufacturer near the Mesa facility taints the Arizona monkey colony's water supply?

The water consumed by our animals in Arizona is pre-treated with low levels of chlorine and is clean, just as is the water that the people in this area drink. Our animals are neither exposed to, nor consume contaminated water. Perchlorates appear in water naturally, particularly in arid regions such as the southwestern U.S. and also can be found as a byproduct of hypochlorite solutions used for treating drinking water and nitrate salts used to produce fertilizers. The Arizona facility utilizes groundwater from an on-site well which is monitored for a number of factors, including perchlorates, on a quarterly basis to ensure that the water our animals receive is clean and safe. The well water testing has consistently shown that the water is safe for human and animal consumption.