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Former nicotine research monkeys now at primate sanctuary

The nicotine addiction study by the FDA started in 2014, but was suspended last year after the agency learned four research monkeys had died.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — More than two dozen monkeys that were test subjects in nicotine addiction research denounced by British primatologist Jane Goodall have been moved from an Arkansas lab to a Florida primate sanctuary.

The Gainesville Sun reported Wednesday that the squirrel monkeys are now at the city’s Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary. The nicotine addiction study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started in 2014 and was suspended last year after the agency learned four research monkeys had died.

The FDA has said three of the monkeys died from anesthesia-related complications and one death was related to bloat, which can have unclear causes.

Goodall wrote to the FDA in September 2017, calling the study “cruel and unnecessary.”

“To continue performing nicotine experiments on monkeys when the results of smoking are well-known in humans — whose smoking habits can be studied directly — is shameful,” she wrote.

Goodall wrote that the study involved placing devices inside young monkeys that would deliver nicotine directly to their bloodstreams. The animals were then restrained and taught to press levers to receive nicotine, she wrote.

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb quickly suspended the study and in January said an investigation found the lab lacked adequate oversight and wasn’t meeting the agency’s animal welfare standards. He then announced the end of the study and said the remaining monkeys would be placed in a sanctuary.

The monkeys — along with about $1 million for their care, arrived in November at Jungle Friends, where they are being introduced to different foods, materials and experiences. In the spring, they’ll move into large outdoor enclosures that mimic their natural habitat. For now, they’re being held in indoor cages as they get acclimated to life outside the lab.

Jungle Friends founder and director Kari Bagnall said “If they ask for cigarettes, they are not getting any.”


Information from: The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun,