The federal government confirmed it is investigating a Lowcountry facility that breeds monkeys for research.
A US Department of Agriculture spokeswoman told The Beaufort Gazette the agency’s investigation of the Alpha Genesis primate research lab near Yemassee began in May. She did not give a reason for the investigation. But the newspaper reports it started a month after an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service visit to the Beaufort County facility.
12 monkeys at the lab have died or were injured in incidents the company reported between January 2014 and October 2014. The deaths ranged from hypothermia, deaths caused by other monkeys, to one that was killed after it escaped and employees ruptured its organs with a blowdart while trying to recapture it.
Alpha Genesis CEO Greg Westergaard told the paper he is unaware of an open investigation and his company complies with federal law, typically addressing any violations within three months. The company raises primates to sell to sanctioned animal research labs elsewhere.
The USDA spokeswoman says there is no timetable to the investigation. Possible outcomes for Alpha Genesis range from simple warnings to possibly having its license revoked. Inspectors have previously issued a warning in May 2014 after another investigation found a monkey had died after being left out in sub-freezing temperatures.