An entire troop of monkeys housed at a NASA facility was killed off rather than being sent to a sanctuary — and a New York lawmaker is demanding to know why, according to a report Tuesday.
All 27 primates at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley were given lethal doses of drugs to euthanize them on Feb. 2, 2019, the Guardian reported.
The monkeys were aging and 21 had Parkinson’s disease, the Guardian said, citing documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
US Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Long Island) said she sent a letter to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine that calls on him to justify the slaughter.
“I look forward to an explanation from administrator Bridenstine on why these animals were forced to waste away in captivity and be euthanized rather than live out their lives in a sanctuary,” Rice told the Guardian.
Animal-rights advocates were also outraged by the shocking revelation.
John Gluck, an expert in animal ethics at the University of New Mexico, said the monkeys were “apparently not considered worthy of a chance at a sanctuary life.”
“Disposal instead of the expression of simple decency. Shame on those responsible,” he said.
Mike Ryan of Rise for Animals, a non-profit group that obtained the documents, said the monkeys’ lives were treated like “tragic afterthoughts.”
“NASA has many strengths, but when it comes to animal welfare practices, they’re obsolete,” he added.
NASA used chimpanzees and other primates to test its Mercury space capsule and famously launched a 3-year-old chimp named Ham into space in 1961.
But the monkeys killed last year were part of a joint care arrangement with LifeSource BioMedical, a drug company that leases space at the Ames Research Center, the Guardian said.
LifeSource CEO Stephanie Solis told the Guardian that the company was given the critters “years ago” because their ages and poor health prevented them from being placed in a sanctuary.
Solis also said the monkeys hadn’t been subjected to research experiments since then.
“We agreed to accept the animals, acting as a sanctuary and providing all care at our own cost, until their advanced age and declining health resulted in a decision to humanely euthanize to avoid a poor quality of life,” Solis said.
A NASA spokesman didn’t immediately return a request for comment.