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PETA suing Massachusetts over monkey labs

PETA filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County Court Tuesday to compel the state's Department of Agricultural Resources to release information on the companies, universities, and individuals involved in the alleged importation of the animals, many of whom PETA claims likely ended up in laboratories for "invasive and painful experiments."

A monkey held in captivity. Photo: PETA. A monkey held in captivity. Photo: PETA.

PETA is suing Massachusetts for the release of information about the alleged importation of 141 monkeys for experimentation.

The activists group, also known by their proper title People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County Court Tuesday to compel the state's Department of Agricultural Resources to release information on the companies, universities, and individuals involved in the alleged importation of the animals, many of whom PETA claims likely ended up in laboratories for "invasive and painful experiments."

"Thousands of monkeys are cut into, sickened, and killed in Massachusetts laboratories each year, and the public has a right to know where these animals came from, where they went, and how they got there," says PETA Director of Laboratory Investigations Justin Goodman.

"PETA wants the state of Massachusetts to stop insulating universities, drug companies, animal dealers, and others from much-deserved public scrutiny about the use of monkeys in deadly experiments," said Goodman.

The state Department of Agricultural Resources did not immediately return a request for comment.

PETA pointed to recent federal data that claims thousands of primates were confined to Massachusetts laboratories in 2011, including at Boston University, Charles River Laboratories, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The organization said it sought information on the importations in February through a Freedom of Information Act request, but claimed the department withheld the information and did not give an adequate reason for doing so.The concern, PETA argues, is that primates in labs are sometimes imported into the U.S. unlawfully, and can carry infectious diseases such as herpes or Ebola, or are sometimes supplied by dealers who have violated animal welfare laws.

During recent inspections, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Massachusetts laboratories for dozens of violations of the Animal Welfare Act, PETA said in its complaint.

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