portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article portland metro

animal rights | imperialism & war

Another ORPRC Whistleblower!

Conservative Republican Gulf War Veteran - talks about his experiences as an Oregon Regional Primate Research Center animal lab technician. Delivers 6 page evaluation of shoddy practices, covering: Worker Speed, Rough Handling and Excessive Force, High Noise Levels, Hostile Attitudes, Lack of Primate Knowledge, Training and Standard Operating Procedures.
Whistleblower: Another Mutineer from the Primate Center
W . H . I . S . T . L . E . B . L . O . W . E . R.
Another Conscientious Objector from the Primate Center

Press conference: In Defense of Animals; Portland, Oregon
Wednesday, July 24th, 2002 - 11:00 a.m. - Speaker: Matt Rossell
baby monkey in cage Almost two years ago, an animal technician at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center (ORPRC) broke rank and came forth to speak out against what he saw transpiring in the Beaverton laboratory compound cloaked by trees and guarded with guns.

Matt Rossell, at the August 28th, 2000 press conference alongside ex-USDA Inspector Dr. Isis Johnson-Brown, relayed accounts of baby monkeys, distressed and diseased. Monkeys living in their filth, attacking their own bodies, out of their minds. He described his attempts to improve conditions for the primates, bucking a status quo interested in grant money, rather than ethics or good science. Realizing OHSU/ORPRC had no intention of changing its focus on dollars and error-ridden assembly line research, Matt Rossell made an anonymous complaint to Dr. Isis Johnson-Brown, Oregon's USDA inspector, and eventually shed his anonymity to speak for the animals.
In 1999, Dr. Isis Johnson-Brown received an anonymous phone call from Matt Rossell, reporting an outbreak of listeria in the outdoor corrals in which baby monkeys were dying. She investigated and found that 10 of 82 females in one coral had stillbirths as a result of the outbreak. Based on sick and death tolls, she questioned whether the monkeys were truly acclimatized to Oregon winter weather. But, ultimately the facility was free to police itself, the final say about whether the animals are acclimated falling to the facility's attending vet: Dr. Kelley, who simply pronounced them acclimated, just as he pronounces them psychologically adjusted and not distressed.

Dr. Johnson-Brown filed her report complaining about the primate conditions, but the USDA took no action, other than eventually rubberstamping approval on ORPRC. Entirely predictable for an agency said to advise its investigators to halve the number of welfare violations they see, then halve them again. Realizing the system is not set up to protect animals or ensure reliable research but to protect the financial interests of research labs, Dr. Johnson-Brown quit.
Now, two years later, a completely different type of whistleblower has stepped forth.
Tom Larimer:

Self-proclaimed conservative republican. Ex-military man. Member of the NRA. Breeder of exotic animals. No kind words for animal activist organizations like PETA. He has glowing references from every zoological organization he has worked with.

Employed at the ORPRC from November 5 to December 28, 2001. Fired in the hours preceding a visit by Willamette Week reporters, for reasons unspecified but likely related to the speed at which he worked.

"Some of the things I saw on a daily basis there made my blood boil."
Much like the complaints Matt Rossell made in 2000, Tom Larimer's six page evaluation of ORPRC's animal handling practices complains of an extremely unprofessional atmosphere, where speed is everything, resulting in rough handling of the primates, excessive force, standard operating procedures that exist only in print. His best description of training at the primate center is "the blind leading the blind."
Talking about rough handling and excessive force, Tom Larimer says"...In another example which also involved a technician who was 'training' me; I allowed this individual to guide my hands while I was restraining a monkey in order to show me exactly what position she wanted this monkey in for blood collection. While guiding my hands, the force she had me employ was sufficient to 'pop' the joint between the monkey's pelvis and femur..."
Hostile attitudes towards the animals. Noise levels, especially around primates who are, at that very moment, having their blood drawn. Animals treated like cargo. All this and more preyed on the mind of the man now in rural Africa on a 3-year field study of baboons. Seeing them in their natural habitat, he realized how cruel and unnatural the laboratory setting, not to mention the research, is for them.

A man who would never work for PETA and who says, "...On a humane level, I have a lot of skeletons in my closet" but whose perspective is changing. That's Tom Larimer and the changing face of our basic concepts of who animals are, how they should be treated, and how a whole industry is investing our money in shoddy, cruel pseudo-science. Contact Matt at NW In Defense of Animals for more information.
As is standard in the animal "research" industry, it just doesn't get better. With little or no accountability to the tax-paying public, with regulatory agencies designed only to give credence to claims the facilities are humane, ethical and produce trustworthy scientific results ... the animal research industry has little incentive to improve. If you think there's accountability, call and ask what exactly they're doing with your tax dollars. Inquire about the cures discovered through their animal research, not merely "replicated" through countless trial and error with different species.

... a little hint: if they say Gleevec, let them know the groundbreaking leukemia drug was discovered in a TEST TUBE.

homepage: homepage: http://www.idausa.org/index.shtml
phone: phone: 503-249-9996

Audio from the press conference! 25.Jul.2002 10:53


Here's audio of the press conference at In Defense of Animals!

Egad. Two Corrections. 25.Jul.2002 13:29

reporter jc

Tom Larimer is an Independent, not a Republican.

Matt Rossell writes:


"I guess ... he's actually independent and voted for Clinton. I made an assumption based on him saying that he would've voted for dubya had he been in the country to vote."


Also, this reporter erroneously recorded in her little notebook that Matt Rossell said Larimer was an exotic animal breeder. I understood mention of his "exotic animal husbandry" experience to include breeding, which is not necessarily the case. (sorry!)