The lives of Bogey and Jingoro, or NeuroSpin’s inability to care for macaques

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On 26 March 2021, the Essonne Prefecture noted the poor health monitoring of the primates kept by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission [CEA – Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives] in its NeuroSpin laboratory. According to documents obtained by One Voice, eight macaques had been killed due to a “generally deteriorated state of health” or a “problem during anaesthesia” over the previous five years. In response, the Prefecture simply limited the laboratory’s authorisation for a year, leaving the remaining macaques to the “care” of the clearly incompetent staff. We have also referred to the Versailles Administrative Tribunal to ask that the authorisation be retracted.

Bogey – delayed treatment and out-of-date medication

Bogey was born in 2007 at Savane Nature, a breeding farm born out of the Planète Sauvage zoo, near Nantes. At three years of age, this rhesus macaque was sold to NeuroSpin by the Bioprim company in the Toulouse region. Imaging, water deprivation, restraint chairs… he went through it like the others. 

When electrodes were implanted in his brain, the leg used to anaesthetise him became infected. Two weeks later, the veterinarian was finally contacted… and prescribed a treatment which did not work. Another two months of waiting and the leg had to be amputated. NeuroSpin then offered this macaque the sad luxury of three weeks of “rest” before continuing with experiments.

Bogey died in 2020. Bitten by the other macaque shut into the same cage as him, he was left isolated. But the “purulent discharge” on his left thigh would quickly become an abscess. The staff gave him an out-of-date antibiotic, which did not work. It took two weeks at the laboratory for the appropriate antibiotics to be delivered… which did not work either.

The “organisation in charge of animal welfare” (SBEA – structure chargée du bien-être animal) therefore decided to kill Bogey, who now had a necrotic testicle and distended colon as well as his abscess. According to the SBEA, “in light of the different diagnostic and medicinal strategies implemented for Bogey, there was no lack of care”. Perhaps it was just incompetence…

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

Jingoro was so stressed that his toys had to be taken away

Jingoro was born on 13 June 2013 at the Silabe Primatology Centre, at the University of Strasbourg. Two and half years later, he was sold to NeuroSpin. He also had to endure water deprivation for several months to be conditioned to obey.

In 2021, his file noted “Diarrhoea/Isolated case”. In the months following, he had repeated diarrhoea. The laboratory found that he was “easily stressed” – we wonder who wouldn’t be having to permanently live in a metal cage and being unable to quench their thirst… But no, his stress was due to the “work” happening in the room where he was kept. The solution: he was moved. Theoretically, he would no longer have diarrhoea. On the contrary, he “threw himself on his kibble during feeding time” and vomited… repeatedly. 

When the staff finally started to worry about Jingoro’s health, they saw a “hard mass” near his stomach area. It was in fact a “ball of hair from a broom”. He was so stressed that he had eaten whatever he could get his hands on – in this case, a broom that was intended as a toy. The solution? “Restriction of structural enrichment”: they took away his toys.

The poor macaque vomited four times in two weeks. But his blood analysis showed “nothing to report”. In the months to follow, vomit was found several times in his cage, but a veterinary examination still found “nothing to report”.

We are asking for authorisation to be retracted

Today, Jingoro is one of the 21 macaques still being exploited by this laboratory with the Prefect’s blessing, who is pretending that “the CEA Paris-Saclay Centre and the NeuroSpin laboratory are continually concerned with refining practices”. This “refinement of practices” has killed Bogey and many other monkeys, and when the Essonne Prefecture chose to reauthorise NeuroSpin’s use of primates, the laboratory created further suffering and yet more deaths. Undoubtedly refined.

We have asked the Versailles Administrative Tribunal to retract this laboratory’s authorisation, to save the macaques who could still be there. You can help by signing our petition to ask for NeuroSpin to be closed and for the macaques to be placed in a sanctuary.