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They Are Only Numbers
By Michael Budkie, Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN)
In 2007 the University of California, Davis passed the milestone of imprisoning and/or experimenting on over 7600 non-human primates in one year. The majority of these monkeys are rhesus macaques, crab-eating macaques and titi monkeys. It is almost impossible to visually conceptualize a group of over 7000 primates – let alone a facility capable of holding this many animals.
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The inadequacy of our ability to conceptualize a facility of this nature is surpassed only by the level to which the University of California, Davis must be inadequate to meet the needs of the 7600 primates incarcerated there. Rhesus monkeys are known to traverse as much as 1 square mile of territory in a day’s time. Even if some of these primates have overlapping territory, to provide 7000 primates with some level of adequate space the University of California, Davis would require several thousand square miles of land, placing it somewhere between the states of Delaware and Connecticut in size.
Instead of a square mile of territory per monkey, many laboratories have decided that a monkey is just fine with approximately nine square feet of living space. The results of this kind of severe confinement are totally predictable -- stress, disease, and psychological abnormality. This level of confinement is accepted by the USDA as adequate.
The lives of over 7000 primates cannot be thought about in any systematic way. There is just too much information here to be handled or examined in any meaningful way. During 2007 and the first half of 2008 approximately 400 primates died at UC Davis. The lives of these monkeys are documented in about 2000 pages of clinical records and post mortem reports. There are no photos, no names -- only numbers. Lives that should have included running, playing, raising offspring, etc. have been reduced to a few pages of medical terminology. There is no individuality, no personality, no relationship. Thousands of lives are reduced to ashes.
Many of the monkeys inside UC Davis have had lives which spanned decades of incarceration. Their years are summed up in only a few pages. They spent years being moved from cage to cage, shuffled around like a living deck of cards. In the end, they are described in only a few sentences. Those sentences show the final result of their incarceration. First, they were robbed of their freedom. Then they lost anything that resembled a natural life. Then, in the final analysis, they often lost their minds. The few words that describe them in death reveal the chaos and self-loathing that must have filled their minds.
Primate #27432 was 14 years and 7 months old when he died in November of 2007. His death is summarized: “The cutaneous lesions were consistent with clinical diagnosis of self trauma.” Primate #30805 died in January of 2008. In January of 2003 a finger was amputated. In July of 2003 another finger was amputated. In the 5 intervening years there is no further mention of injuries or treatment, and yet the necropsy report states: “The animal is presented in good flesh with severe traumatic injuries (self-inflicted) on all limbs.”
The statements of death for other primates at the UC Davis Primate Center sound like a litany of madness. The necropsy report for primate #33659 states: “The animal is presented in good flesh with multiple, mostly healed or healing cutaneous lacerations. (self trauma).” The post-mortem record for primate #34975 said: “There are multiple (self-inflicted) cutaneous abrasions/lacerations. (self-trauma).” The necropsy for primate #35103 continues the litany of lunacy: “The animal is presented in good flesh with multiple, self-inflicted, cutaneous wounds on arms and legs (self-mutilation).” The death document for primate #35927 goes on: “The animal is presented thin with multiple cutaneous abrasions/lacerations (self-injurious behavior).” And the last word on Primate #27257 is no less shocking – “The animal is presented in good flesh with severe musculotaneous trauma to the right arm and the right side of the face. Body as a whole traumatic abnormality (bite wounds).”
Primate #32104 was born on the 10th of March, 2000. He lives for seven years and 3 months, undergoing over 30 cage moves. In August of 2002 one of his fingers is bitten severely enough to require stitches. In October of 2002 one of his toes is amputated after being bitten. In November of 2002 he suffers from multiple bite wounds to both a finger and his tail which result in amputations. In May of 2003 his tail again has a traumatic injury requiring amputation. By October of 2003 a finger has been injured severely enough to require amputation. In January of 2004 his left leg is lacerated and his right ankle has been bitten. In June of 2004 a toe is amputated after a bite wound. In October of 2004 his tail is again injured, requiring amputation. In October of 2005, as part of an experiment, his skull is cut open in two places and the membrane which surrounds the brain is cut. Ibotenic acid is injected into his brain. 1 ˝ years later he is killed. Other primates have similar life histories. Primate #32235 lived for seven years and endured 4 amputations, 1 laceration, traumatic injuries, and bite wounds that involved the tail, finger, elbow and toe. Primate #28951 endured 4 amputations and 3 bite wounds involving the tail, face and toe. This story is repeated many, many more times.
These are the reactions of minds, not unlike our own, to severely abnormal conditions. The high levels of stress have many consequences other than overtly self-destructive behavior. In many of these animals severe and ongoing conditions of gastro-intestinal inflammation exist. Enteritis, colitis, etc. are very common. In fact, the 400 or so pages of post mortem reports use the word colitis 117 times. This stress and disease can have other consequences. These same 400 pages of death records use the word inanition, a bodily condition which resembles starvation, 108 times. Dehydration is discussed 91 times.
Their lives were no more healthy or tranquil than their deaths. In the 1500 pages of documents which discuss their clinical treatments trauma is mentioned 403 times. Amputation is discussed 143 times. There were 387 wounds, 221 bites, 70 abrasions, and 40 fractures. During their lives the females gave birth to 705 live offspring, another 244 were stillborn: an infant death rate of almost 26%.
The existences of these 400 or so intelligent, sensitive animals are summarized in injuries, illnesses, and deaths. All living things end in death; this is unavoidable. But it almost seems as though these monkeys were trying to hasten their deaths. Their injuries, whether self-inflicted or as violence practiced on each other, have the appearance of either attempted suicide or madness- induced violence. And when conscious efforts at death were unsuccessful, their bodies self-destructed. The stress and insanity prevented them from properly digesting food: inanition.
It has been said that madness is a sane response to an insane situation. As a species human beings practice insanity on each other regularly. As “scientists” we practice it on many other species. We use them as tools, apparatus, experimental subjects. We take their freedom, their sanity, and eventually their lives. We change them from beings that have lives to something different. They become nothing more than information, just data, only numbers.
Please help us make a difference for the animals. We have contacted the Chancellor of the University of California, Davis to ask for the opportunity to inspect their primate facilities and to see the primates themselves. Please urge them to act in a spirit of openness and transparency by allowing the tour.
Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef
Mrak Hall, Fifth Floor
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
530-752-2065(p) 530-752-2400 (fax)
Our letter to the Chancellor is posted here.
We have also filed a complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture to obtain an investigation of UC Davis Primate Care.
Please write to the USDA to ask them to take action against UC Davis for allowing the primates to suffer so severely that they become self-destructive.
Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region
2150 Centre Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
Our USDA Complaint is posted here.
For more, visit Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN).
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