A controversial lab that does medical research with chimpanzees has enlisted the help of a Thompson Hine lobbyist in Washington.
The New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana is using Thompson Hine partner Fern O'Brian to advocate for it on matters concerning medical testing on chimps, according to a lobbying registration report the law firm filed with Congress on Saturday. Thompson Hine notes in the paperwork that it is following a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review of whether captive chimps should receive an endangered species designation, and it is also keeping track of the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, which would ban invasive research on the primates.
Neither O'Brian nor Kathleen Thames, a spokeswoman for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which oversees New Iberia, could immediately be reached for comment.
But New Iberia's non-NIH chimps, which number at about 240, will remain at the lab for research by pharmaceutical companies.
The center's treatment of its primates has come under fire from animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States. The organization in 2009 released a video that showed what it called "routine and unlawful mistreatment of hundreds of chimpanzees and other primates" at New Iberia. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently investigating the lab for possible Animal Welfare Act infractions.
Thompson Hine is the first firm to lobby federal officials for New Iberia, according to congressional records that date back to 1999. But The Picard Group is registered to lobby for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Foundation, which raises money for the university.