In DepthANIMAL WELFARE

Sick chinchillas languish at farms that supply researchers

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Science  29 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6494, pp. 928
DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6494.928

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Summary

Biomedical researchers rely on chinchillas—docile South American rodents with ears strikingly similar to those of humans—for studies of ear infections and hearing loss. But the two main U.S. chinchilla suppliers to research labs have for years violated the U.S. Animal Welfare Act, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which enforces that law. The facilities, Moulton Chinchilla Ranch (MCR) and Ryerson Chinchilla Ranch, failed to identify and treat sick animals, kept them in filthy barns and excrement-laden enclosures, and failed to clear dead animals, USDA inspection reports dated as recently as March show. But MCR, with a 9-year history of Animal Welfare Act violations, is the only chinchilla facility listed in the Buyers Guide that U.S. universities rely on to find suppliers. And a hearing where it might have lost its license to operate was delayed last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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