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Allegations of animal cruelty at New Iberia prompt investigation and lawsuit

February 9, 2005 • Posted in Related News

According to a lawsuit filed in February 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture “has initiated an official investigation” of alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) at New Iberia Research Center (NIRC). 

The allegations came to light in the lawsuit filed on February 9, 2005, in a Louisiana court by Narriman Fakier, a former NIRC employee, who argued that she was fired for internally blowing the whistle on violations and chimpanzee cruelty at NIRC.

As set forth in Fakier’s lawsuit, allegations include:

  • An NIRC employee deliberately burned chimpanzees on the back of the hand with a lighter and threw a bucket of scalding hot water on another chimpanzee. The employee described these actions as “just a game” to Fakier. In a report to the head of the Animal Resource Division at NIRC, Fakier recommended that staff spend additional time with the traumatized chimpanzees. The proposal was denied, stating that the chimpanzees would “get over it.”
  • Fakier complained of the “barbaric” nature of group anesthesias—an alleged violation of the AWA—as opposed to anesthetizing them individually. According to Fakier’s petition, “This invariably resulted in the chimpanzees screaming and running around in the cage in fear as the NIRC employees attempted to ‘dart’ them with anesthesia.”
  • A chimpanzee named Pierre died after becoming ill while on a study, despite the fact that it had been previously recommended that Pierre not participate in any further studies because he had never fully recovered from an earlier study.
  • Chimpanzee housing was infested with roaches and mice.

NIRC asked Fakier to resign after she expressed concern over a plan to separate 10 young chimpanzees into single cages. The young chimpanzees had been housed in two groups of five since birth.

Based on Fakier’s petition for damages, filed on February 9, 2005.

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