Caldwell won't carry on probe of chimp death

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LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's attorney general says he plans no further investigation into the death of a chimpanzee at a New Iberia research center.

The Advertiser of Lafayette reports (http://bit.ly/15YaDYE) that Buddy Caldwell made his decision known in a letter to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

That group had asked for an investigation into the 2011 death of an 8-year-old research chimp. The animal had become ill while being transferred from a Maryland facility to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's research center in New Iberia.

The physicians committee had asked the attorney general's office to investigate the transport company, Stone Oak Farms and Transport in Opelousas.

In a letter dated April 19, Caldwell notified the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine that the chimp, named Chaos, did not appear to die as a result of cruelty or severe neglect, based on a review of documents from a federal investigation into the death.

"While you have proposed a plausible theory that dehydration may have been one factor in the death of Chaos, there is not sufficient evidence to prove this theory," Caldwell said in the letter.

"Louisiana jurisprudence is clear that ordinary negligence does not equate to 'criminal negligence,'" the letter states. "In reviewing the volume of documents associated with the federal investigation of this incident, there is no evidence that points to 'gross negligence' on anyone's part, and no probable cause exists to prove a violation of Louisiana's animal cruelty statutes."

The physicians committee has been active in pushing for the elimination of primates and other animals in research.

Aaron Martin, UL director of communications and marketing, said Thursday the New Iberia center decided in early 2012 to halt the use of chimpanzees for any research that is invasive or could harm the animals. The chimps now owned by the center, about 240 animals currently, are used only for behavioral research, Martin said.

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Information from: The Advertiser, http://www.theadvertiser.com

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