A few retired monkey astronauts lived long lives in sanctuaries after trips to space—but that wasn't the fate of 27 primates held at NASA's Ames Research Center in California. According to documents obtained by animal welfare group Rise for Animals under a Freedom of Information Act request, all 27 monkeys held by NASA were euthanized on Feb. 2 last year. None of them had been to space. Records state that a group of 21 aging monkeys with Parkinson's disease that had never been used for studies was euthanized, along with a group of six monkeys that had not been used for studies in many years and was "developing health problems due to age."
The monkeys were being held at the Ames center under a joint arrangement between NASA and drug research firm LifeSource BioMedical, which leases space at the center, the Guardian reports. Animal welfare advocates strongly criticized NASA for euthanizing the primates instead of trying to rehouse them at a sanctuary. Rep. Kathleen Rice says she has been pushing the government to consider "humane retirement policies" for research animals and she has written to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "I look forward to an explanation from administrator Bridenstine on why these animals were forced to waste away in captivity and be euthanized rather than live out their lives in a sanctuary," the Democrat says. (Read more NASA stories.)