Dispatches from the Sunshine State

University of South Florida and animal testing


Ever wonder what kind of animal research goes down at the University of South Florida? Well, thanks to a recent Humane Society lawsuit, you can find out with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently posted animal testing reports from the nation’s research facilities on its website. The annual reports — which contain information on what kind of animals are used and if the experiments are painful — are required by law, but until now, only available after a lengthy Freedom of Information Act request.

So, what kind of creatures live in USF’s labs? In 2008, the university conducted experiments on 410 hamsters, 212 pigs, 208 guinea pigs, 56 primates, nine rabbits, four gerbils and four cats.

Unfortuately, the information included in the reports is not complete. Mice, rats, fish and birds are excluded from the reports. Also, the documents lack specifics on the experiments themselves.

But — and this is the point where you all gasp — the reports do separate the animals into categories: those animals used for breeding; animals used for experiments that didn’t involve pain; animals used for experiments that did cause pain or distress, but researchers used anesthetics; and animals used for experiments that did cause pain or distress, but aesthetics were not used.

About a quarter of the hamsters and four monkeys fell into the latter category.

The animal rights blog News for Florida Animal Advocates listed some of the other research facilities in Florida and brought up a great point about the lack of information in the reports: Shouldn’t the people of Florida know the nature of the testing and why alternatives to animals were not used?

Speaking of animal cruelty, did you hear about Glenn Beck and “Frog-gate?”

(h/t to News for Florida Animal Advocates)

(Photo courtesy of DanielJames/Flickr)

Behind the News

Breaking News! Reggie is free!

spidermonkeyOK, the news is a few days old, but in Fruitland Park, they’re lucky to be getting the Internet at all.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Reggie the “horse riding monkey” escaped from the circus on Friday after a PETA activist began arguing with the monkey’s owner. As of yesterday, no one has seen the little guy. The folks over at Florida Animal Advocates couldn’t be happier:

As of this afternoon, Reggie the “horse-riding spider monkey” is still enjoying his freedom in the wilds of Lake County. On Friday, before a performance of the Liebling Bros. Circus at the North Lake Flea Market in Fruitland Park, the owner of the circus failed to properly latch the door to Reggie’s cage. Spider monkeys are known for their intelligence. Reggie saw an opportunity and took it, dashing from the cage and into the woods near the flea market (the flea market is a short distance from Lake Griffin State Park). We wish Reggie luck!

Hmmm .. wily monkeys, dubious owners, maligned animal institution … where have I heard this before?

(Photo Credit: Amatuer Photo Bore/Flickr)