Wake Forest, UCLA wrangling over primate center in Forsyth County

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Monkeys at Wake Forest Primate Center in 2008. (Credit: LAUREN CARROLL/JOURNAL)

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Wake Forest University Health Sciences is suing to end a joint venture with the University of California at Los Angeles involving the primate colony in southern Forsyth County, and UCLA is accusing Wake Forest of financially mismanaging the research center.

The colony contains 475 vervet monkeys, many of which came from the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. They contain family trees that have been tracked for eight generations by researchers.

The Wake Forest group said it is willing to shut down the primate center in the Friedberg community if UCLA doesn’t agree to continue to pay half of the operating costs. Wake Forest paid $2 million to build the center.

Wake Forest filed the lawsuit Dec. 7 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. The legal case began showing up on the online Pacer legal-documentation system Feb. 6 when UCLA filed a petition for dismissal of the lawsuit.

The group wants UCLA to pay $330,287 – half the cost of the colony’s operating budget for fiscal 2012, which ended June 30, 2012 – as well as damages exceeding $10,000, plus interest. It has requested a jury trial and that the case be transferred to N.C. Superior Court.