PETA wants Emory University to shut down Yerkes animal center

Emory president considering a name change for the center

A prominent animal rights group wants Emory University to close a center on its main campus, saying the facility mistreats animals it uses for scientific research.

Emory University President Gregory Fenves announced Monday upcoming building name changes. He is also considering a committee recommendation to change the name of the facility, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, in response to longstanding complaints that the psychologist it is named after, Robert Yerkes, conducted racially-biased research.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said a name change is not enough. They want the center closed.

“The issue of changing the name should be moot, because the center should be shut down,” PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo said in a statement Wednesday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Our concern is that renaming this laboratory — with its many violations of the Animal Welfare Act and cruel, pointless experiments — won’t change the current problem of oppression. Only closing the primate center down, as Harvard closed its New England Primate Research Center in 2015, will end the supremacy problem.”

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PETA has frequently complained that the center is harming animals, citing U.S. Department of Agriculture fines against Yerkes and concerns that Emory is still engaging in dangerous research. Emory, for example, agreed in 2019 to pay $10,500 for three violations involving primates between 2015 and 2017.

Emory replied in a statement Thursday that the animal research conducted at the center for ongoing work is important to discovering causes, preventions, treatments and cures to various diseases.The university noted the center has been fully accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International since 1984.

“This accreditation is regarded as the gold seal of approval for laboratory animal care,” Emory said in its statement. “Emory University will continue to support research with animals, which is grounded in scientific integrity, expert knowledge, respect for colleagues, commitment to diversity, an open exchange of ideas and compassionate, quality animal care.”

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