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“Usually, animals don’t just drop dead for no reason whatsoever,” Budkie said. He said handling stress might have contributed to the deaths.

The university sent a copy of the federal response to the university’s report of those deaths. Brent Morse of the federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare commended the university’s prompt reporting and wrote on March 7, “We … find no cause for further action by this office.”

Louisiana-Lafayette paid an $18,000 fine in 2010 to settle complaints made the previous year by the Humane Society of the United States. It paid $38,570 in fines last year for the deaths of three rhesus monkeys in May 2011 and an injury to a chimpanzee in 2012.