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Monkey research facility in Yemassee planning $3M expansion. Here’s what’s being added

In 2016 monkey escape, Alpha Genesis CEO says monkeys were not a threat

In this file video, Greg Westergaard, CEO of Alpha Genesis, talks about public safety after 19 monkeys escaped from their enclosure on Sunday, May 1, 2016 in Yemassee, S.C.
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In this file video, Greg Westergaard, CEO of Alpha Genesis, talks about public safety after 19 monkeys escaped from their enclosure on Sunday, May 1, 2016 in Yemassee, S.C.

A Yemassee facility that breeds monkeys for research announced its continued expansion Tuesday by committing an additional $3 million over the next two years toward new construction and hiring.

The announcement, made by Alpha Genesis Inc., follows a $2 million initiative announced in 2016 that resulted in the company building 50,000 square feet of new research space, according to a news release. That expansion led to 30 full-time technical positions.

“The overall goal of these efforts is to position Alpha Genesis to effectively compete with Chinese expansion efforts into the primate bio-research industry,” the release said.

The facility plans to build a new and larger quarantine holding facility to “enhance its service offerings by purchasing more specialized medical research equipment” and to hire more staff.

Its primate research center maintains a colony of 6,000 monkeys.

The corporation does genetic testing on animals and sells them for immunological research. It has been in business since 2013.

Earlier this year, the facility was fined $12,600 by the federal government for six violations — including the escape of some of the animals.

Those violations occurred between December 2014 and February 2016, according to a USDA document contained by an animal rights group.

Four of the violations included incidents where monkeys escaped their enclosures. The first happened in 2014 when 26 monkeys escaped. All were returned within 48 hours.

A single monkey escaped a week later and was never found.

Six months later, two more of the animals escaped, and one died.

In 2016, another monkey escaped because its cage was not secured properly.

The final two violations involved a monkey being placed into the wrong social group enclosure, where other monkeys attacked it, causing fatal injuries, and an incident where six monkeys suffered severe dehydration.

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