NASA has reportedly killed all 27 monkeys that were living at the space agency's research center in California earlier last year. The animals were put to death using administrative drugs on February 2, 2019, according to the documents that were uncovered following a freedom of information request.
NASA killed 27 monkeys
After the news broke out, animal rights advocates were furious at NASA's decision to kill the monkeys and 21 of whom were reported to have had Parkinson's disease. The advocates have pointed out that the space agency should have moved them to an animal sanctuary instead of killing them.
According to John Gluck, an expert in animal ethics at the University of New Mexico, the monkeys were suffering the ethological deprivations and frustrations that are inherent of living in a laboratory.
Gluck added that under NASA's estimations, the monkeys were apparently not considered worthy of a chance to be moved to a sanctuary and start a new life.
Gluck was disappointed that the space agency did not even try to move the monkeys on a sanctuary. He said that what they did as a "disposal" of the primates instead of showing simple decency and added that those who are responsible should be ashamed, according to The Independent UK.
Kathleen Rice, a Democrat from New York, is now calling on government researchers in the United States to consider humane retirement policies for the animals who are involved in research in agencies.
Rice said, after announcing that she had written to NASA's administrator Jim Bridenstine and demanding answers for what happened, that she is looking forward to an explanation from Bridenstein on why the monkeys were forced to waste away in captivity and be euthanized instead of giving them a chance to live in a sanctuary.
All 27 monkeys had been kept by both NASA and the drug research company LifeSource BioMedical at the Ames facility.
According to the chief executive of LifeSource, Stephani Solis, the monkeys were given to the lab years ago after their previous owners failed to find the right sanctuary for their health and age.
Solis said that they agreed to accept the monkeys and that they acted as a sanctuary. They provided all the care at their own cost, until their advanced age and declining health resulted in a decision to humanely euthanize them to avoid a poor quality of life.
Solis then went on to say that the monkeys had not been involved in any research during their time at the laboratory and that they had been given a good remaining quality of life.
A spokesperson for Rise for Animals, the organization which made the discovery through a freedom of information document, said that while NASA has a lot of strengths, its animal welfare practices are obsolete and should be corrected.
NASA is still yet to comment on the death of the monkeys, according to MSN.
NASA's history with animals
NASA has a long association with primates. Ham, a chimpanzee, received training every day before he became the first great ape to be sent into space back in 1961. He was able to carry out his brief mission successfully before safely landing into the ocean.
However, the monkeys that were euthanized were not used in any space missions or research, instead they were housed at the Ames facility in a joint care arrangement between LifeSource BioMedical and NASA.
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Written by Sieeka Khan