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Donor says dead zoo monkeys arrived healthy

by: KOIN NEWS 6 - Six tamarin monkeys, similar to the one picture here, died suddenly two days after arriving at the Oregon Zoo from Boston.An independent veterinarian found six rare cotton-top tamarin monkeys likely died days after arriving at the Oregon Zoo because of travel-related shock.

But Harvard Medical School, which provided the moneys to the zoo, told KOIN 6 News the monkeys were healthy when they arrived and provided email exchanges with zoo officials.

The monkeys traveled about 50 hours from the East Coast.

Harvard University Medical donated of a total of nine monkeys and organized transportation of the monkeys by van. When they arrived in Oregon, they were placed in plastic picnic coolers with air holes cut in them.

Two days later, six of the nine died.

A spokesperson for the Harvard Medical School told KOIN 6 News they did not know anything about a recent pathology report suggesting travel stress as a likely but not proven cause of death.

The spokesperson added transportation methods are not discussed. However, she later sent a statement from Harvard Medical School and a redacted document that showed the tamarin monkeys arrived in Oregon safely and healthy.

“We were deeply saddened to learn about the unfortunate event at the Oregon Zoo related to the cotton top tamarins. While we typically do not comment on transports, we feel it is important to share these documents that show the animals arrived at the Oregan (sic) Zoo safely and in good condition on Thursday morning, May 22,” the statement said. “These documents include the animal health observation log, the USDA 7020 form that acknowledges receipt of animals, and two email exchanges.

“The standard and safest method of transporting nonhuman primates in North America is through experienced ground carriers. The carrier is registered with the USDA, and it provided environmentally controlled, door-to-door transportation that met all USDA guidelines. In accordance with the Animal Welfare Act, the animals were observed every four hours during transit, and were provided fresh produce, water and food at intervals that met USDA regulations.”

KOIN 6 News was not able to contact zoo administrators on Friday.

A spokesperson for Metro — the zoo’s overseer — said the independent veterinarian said shock is the likely cause of death, but it is undetermined if the coolers the monkeys were placed in had anything to do with their deaths.