According to PETA, 20 million animals are used for educational purposes, including medical research. While non-animal alternatives exist, many universities insist on animal experiments in order to ”educate” students. These experiments include forcing animals to endure starvation, isolation, dissection, electric shock and psychological tests. While there are many universities guilty of causing harm to animals for the sake of science, one university, in particular, takes the biscuit.

The University of Oklahoma (OU) has been cited at least 16 times for animal cruelty by The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Founded in 2001, scientists at their health sciences center have studied organ transplantation, psychological disorders, and sickle cell anemia, through their baboon resource program.

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Life for lab baboons is miserable. Because primates are highly social and intelligent creatures, they don’t respond well to isolation and deprivation: a normality of lab life. Typically kept in cages and isolated from one another, the physical and psychological torture primates face can affect them in unrecoverable ways. Around 90 percent of primates in labs develop abnormal behaviors as a result of captivity, including rocking back and forth, pacing and self-mutilation. When all is said and done, primates do not belong in captivity. No animal does.

Fortunately, OU recently announced that it will be closing its research facility where baboons are bred for brutal experiments. With a long history of cruel treatment of animals in its laboratories, including baboons, it’s about time they put an end to this horrific abuse. The question is, what will happen to the hundreds of baboons left behind at the school?

A History of Abuse and Horrific Deaths

Between 2013 and 2015, 51 baboons, including infants, died at the school’s breeding facility. According to a report, they died in ”violent, gruesome ways.” Many were crushed during transport, some suffocated to death, and others died from untreated parasitic infections.

Over the years, the facility has been slammed with numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act. In 2012, OU was cited by the USDA for euthanizing dogs via electrocution. Last year, they were in hot water with USDA again when inspectors found baboons living in dire conditions while others were left shivering after being hosed down and exposed to the risk of hypothermia. They also found “an excessive build up of grime, debris, and excreta on the bars” of enclosures. According to the USDA, the center had poorly trained staff that seemed unaware of the importance of sanitation in areas where animals are kept.

University president David Boren says the reason for ending the baboon program includes ”a shift in the university’s research priorities and a desire to more wisely expend precious funds.”

Great news indeed but they’ve yet to send their remaining baboons to a sanctuary. So it seems, their fate lies in our hands.

Will You Help the Remaining Baboons?

Instead of transferring these baboons from OU to another laboratory where they will once again face physical and psychological abuse, we want to see the remaining baboons retired to sanctuaries where they can receive the love and care they need and deserve. It seems unlikely that they’d ever be able to return to the wild, considering the severe physical and psychological torture they’ve endured for years.

Baboons are highly social, intelligent, and inquisitive animals. In the wild, they live in groups of around 150 individuals and communicate in 30 distinct vocalizations. When taken away from their family groups and locked up in captivity, baboons suffer immensely and are left to live a life of solitude and neglect.

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Taking baboons from the wild and forcing them into captivity also impacts the wild population. While they’re a least threatened species, the use of baboons in research has increased, meaning their numbers could drop significantly if it continues.

If you agree, please urge the Oklahoma University to retire its remaining baboons to an accredited sanctuary, where they can finally say goodbye to years of suffering and hello to a new and better life. To increase your impact, share this article and encourage others to sign. Those remaining baboons are counting on us!

Image Source: Derek Keats/Flickr

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