An animal rights watchdog group is calling for harsh penalties against the Covance facility near Alice after it says it was cited for allegedly starving two monkeys to death.

A USDA Inspection report on June 3, 2019, stated that 25 macaques were not fed for six days. According to the report, the starvation caused “poor body condition” on the primates and led to the death of two.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now, a non-profit Ohio-based non-governmental group that monitors U.S. research facilities for illegal behavior and animal abuse, is now calling for the USDA to take action.

“Covance forgot to feed a group of 25 primates for six days, and as a result, they all became severely debilitated, and two of them had to be euthanized,” said Michael Budkie, SAEN executive director.

Budkie said that while the USDA cited Covance for failing to feed the non-human primates, Covance should have also been cited for failure to provide veterinary care because veterinary care required some level of daily observation, and someone should have noticed that the monkeys hadn't been fed.

Known locally the “monkey farm,” the Covance facility located just southeast of Alice is classified as an animal dealer. It houses and produces primates for other facilities.

In 2016, Covance in Texas was fined $31,500 by federal regulators for a series of primate deaths. The USDA stated the fines were for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

According to SAEN, five of the primate deaths in 2016 occurred when monkeys were transported from the airport without being given water, despite the fact that the monkeys were not given water during the flight into Texas.

Another federal report documents the hyperthermia deaths of 13 monkeys at the Covance Research Products facility in Alice after repeated thermostat malfunctions. A USDA inspection dated Nov. 20, 2014 details those 13 primate hyperthermia deaths in two separate incidents.

Budkie said Covance should be fined per infraction, and that the fines for the latest citations should total as much as $250,000.