Inadvertent primate release at Tulane National Primate Research Center

Officials say macaque was not infected and was captured quickly

Tulane University Photo

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A situation at the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington has been resolved.  

A WWL listener said he went there this morning.

"I went there to make a delivery," he explained. "The lady told me; 'The place is on lockdown, come back in an hour.'"

The delivery man explained that he did notice some unusual activity.

"I looked around, and there were police all up and down the street on every corner."

He said there were also apparent staff members outside at the center.

"There were people in the woods, looking up in the trees." the listener explained. "That made me think they were looking for one of the monkeys."

We called the center and a man who refused to identify himself said, "Everything is fine."

When we asked for his name and further information, he said we would have to contact the press office at Tulane and hung up the phone.

A short time later an email from Tulane Executive Director of Public Relations Mike Strecker arrived.

It read,  "A rhesus macaque, which was not infected and did not present any disease hazard, was inadvertently released from its home cage on the grounds of Tulane National Primate Research Center (TNPRC) this morning. The animal never left the grounds of the research center and was captured within 100 feet of its home cage."

The Tulane National Primate Research Center website says the facility investigates diseases.

"The primary areas of research today at the TNPRC are infectious diseases, including biodefense-related work and Regenerative Medicine. Research at the Tulane National Primate Research Center is focused on human health problems that require the use of nonhuman primates to understand the disease. This forms the basis of efforts to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and preventive strategies such as vaccines."

The center sits on 500 acres of land in St. Tammany Parish.

There have been reported primate escapes over the years, and in 2014 the federal government suspended bio-terrorism research at the center after authorities announced that deadly bacteria had escaped from a secure lab and infected two monkeys.

There are some 4,000 animals at the center.

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