NeuroSpin’s negligence killed Kimiko

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2021 was particularly awful year for primates being kept at NeuroSpin. After having left a lone technician to manage two primates who escaped and were fighting “following an operating error with the cages’ padlocks”, those responsible for the animals did not even see that several macaques had not been fed or given water for several days. Not to mention Kimiko, who was killed by staff negligence. One Voice is filing a plea to get NeuroSpin’s authorisation retracted and to allow the animals that are still alive to be rescued.

“In March 2021, a serious incident of oversight by a researcher appointed to replace [an engineer] and to feed and give water to two macaques occurred for four days while he was on leave. The animal facility representative, the licence holder, the person in charge of the facility, and the researcher did not notice anything. It was the staff of a contractor firm, in charge of building maintenance and of twenty other primates, who raised the alarm on the fourth day to the NeuroSpin supervisor team. ”

No need to add anything: the inspection report from 26 March 2021 was very explicit. The NeuroSpin staff were already incapable of correctly caring for the macaques, and they had just shown gross negligence. This was not fatal to the four macaques concerned. Kimiko would not be so ‘lucky’.

A life of suffering

Kimiko is a rhesus monkey, born on 13 July 1999, likely at the Planète Sauvage zoo, or even at the Bioprim company – the documents about her are very vague about the start of her life.

At the age of twelve and a half, she was sold to NeuroSpin, who subjected her to cerebral imaging experiments under general anaesthesia. Two years later, they cemented a bar of metal in her head, to be used in “cognitive tasks” in a constraint chair – experiments carried out without anaesthesia, on this occasion, and so mind-numbing that the laboratory deprived her of water to “motivate” her to obey

At age twenty, they opened her skull to implant electrodes into her brain. A failure: she went back onto the experimental surgical table for the electrodes to the “reinserted”… which still did not work. Another surgery to take them out. Meanwhile, the experiments continued. A year and a half later, they opened her skull again to put an “imaging chamber” in that would be used to make certain neurones fluorescent for experiments. This was the beginning of the end.

Image taken from a report from the NeuroSpin meeting on 23 September 2019.

Infections do not take holidays

In 2021, a few months after the implantation, Kimiko’s imaging chamber became infected. After an antibiotic treatment, the infection disappeared. She had more luck than 
. But the Prefecture still noticed the lack of staff consideration at NeuroSpin regarding primates and 
, banning the use of monkeys in experiments but leaving them to the mercy of the same people. All of this could have been a warning signal for the staff. But no. Kimiko’s implant was not checked even once during the summer. After all, it was the holidays. At the end of August, the staff stated that an infection had been developing over several weeks and that the implant was not waterproof. Two and a half months later, after several failed attempts to treat her, Kimiko was transferred to another of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission’s [CEA – Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives] centres, where she was killed.

All is not lost

On 31 March 2022, despite Kimiko’s death and new violations, the Essonne Prefecture re-established NeuroSpin’s authorisation, simply banning them from depriving the macaques of water to make them obey.

It is too late to protect Kimiko. But we are fighting so that what she endured can save the 21 macaques that are still shut up in the cages of this laboratory. To help them, despite the inaction of the Prefect, we have also referred to the Versailles Administrative Tribunal to ask that NeuroSpin’s authorisation be retracted. You can sign our petition to ask for this laboratory to be closed and for the macaques to be placed in a sanctuary.