In late July, Covance Inc., a contract research organization with a facility in Evansville, was fined $31,500 for four violations of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act relating to the overheating deaths of thirteen crab-eating macaques (monkeys) in 2014.
Covance is one of the world’s largest contract research organizations and the country’s largest importer of primates used in experimentation. They are also the country’s largest breeder of dogs destined for laboratories. Covance has operations in more than 20 states and 60 countries. The company has more than 11,000 employees and annual revenue of more than $2 billion.
The thirteen monkeys were killed in two separate incidences at Covance’s facility in Alice, TX, in late 2014. In both cases, one in September and one about a month later, failures of the lab’s heating system caused the rooms the macaques were housed in to overheat without anyone noticing or responding to the situation. The macaques died of hyperthermia.
The USDA, the governmental body that issued the citation, also cited Covance for knowingly transporting primates without water and despite malfunctioning air conditioning systems in a separate incident. According to the citation:
“Covance directed transporters to travel without stopping to the Covance facility, despite being aware that the airline had not provided water as required, that the transport trailers’ air conditioning units were malfunctioning and that at least five nonhuman primates were weak and in distress.”
This is not the first time that Covance has been cited for animal cruelty. In 2005, an undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) at Covance’s now defunct lab in Vienna, Virginia, exposed Covance workers abusing monkeys (screaming at them, hitting and choking them, slamming them in their cages, spraying them with pressurized hoses) and denying them proper veterinary care. As a result, Covance paid a paltry fine of $8,720 and PETA was forced to sign an agreement to not infiltrate Covance again for five years.
Covance, which was purchased by LabCorp in 2014, has its headquarters are in Priceton, NJ, as well as facilities across the U.S. Covance Research Products Inc., the Covance subsidiary that breeds lab animals, is based in Denver, Pennsylvania, about an hour and a half from Philadelphia. In addition to its clinical testing facility in Evansville, where drugs are tested on paid human subjects, Covance also has testing facilities in Daytona, Florida; Madison, WI and Dallas, TX, and maintains other facilities in 20 U.S. States.
PETA currently has a campaign targeting the airline companies that transport primates from places such as China, Vietnam and Mauritius to medical research facilities in the U.S., as well as a list of airlines that vow to not transport primates to labs.
Although Covance does not do animal testing at its Evansville facility, the profits made here are inextricably linked to Convance’s abuse of animals in other parts of the world. As such, actions taken here to disrupt Covance’s flow of profits, educate others about what Covance does, build momentum against animal torture and link up with people opposing Covance elsewhere could have an impact. We also can look to campaigns against animal torture in other places for inspiration of what sorts of tactics are possible.