NORMAN (AP) — Over the past four years the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center has earned nearly $2 million for selling more than 400 baboons for medical research.
The university announced in 2015 that it would end its baboon program within four years, The Oklahoman reported. The decision came after the program, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, received criticism from animal welfare groups.
Records show that the university is still selling baboons for research. Animal welfare advocates are concerned because they fear baboons will be treated the same way at another laboratory.
The National Institutes of Health said in a statement that the baboons will be used to "support biomedical research that seeks fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability."
James Tomasek, vice president for research at the university, said in a statement that OU is "winding down" its program on schedule.
"Since this program is funded by the National Institutes of Health, we actively communicate with the NIH regarding plans and provisions for baboons, including relocation options and eventually closing the NIH-funded facility," Tomasek said.
According to data obtained by the newspaper, 16 institutions purchased baboons for research between 2012 and 2016 from the university.
"In all cases, the institutions were USDA-registered (United States Department of Agriculture) and held the necessary federal requirements for receiving and using this species," university officials said.
The university declined to give additional details about where baboons will be sent.