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They Have No Hope But Us:
The Tsunami of Suffering of Animals in Labs
By Michael Budkie
Founder, SAEN — Stop Animal Exploitation Now!
Most people never see the inside of an animal laboratory. We are not allowed to view the reality of death and misery that is the lot of many animals. Whether they be monkeys, dogs, rabbits, or sheep we will never know what happens to most of them. We will not see how they live. We will not know the endless monotony of life in cages made of wire mesh and concrete. We will never know what it is like to live out an existence totally alone — day after day without so much as the touch of a familiar hand. We will never understand the suffering of their deaths.
The unrelenting, mind-numbing monotony of isolation is relieved only by intermittent periods of unremitting horror. The psychological torture of isolation is interrupted only by the trauma of human handling, and the experience of becoming an unwilling victim in an experiment. The loneliness of the cage is replaced by the confinement of a restraint chair. The concrete of the cage floor is replaced by the cold steel of the operating table. This is the life, and the death, of animals whose existence is played out within our nation’s labs.
This is the picture we are not allowed to see. We are not supposed to know that research facilities are places of intense suffering. We are not supposed to know that these places are not what they appear to be. Prestigious universities should not be places of suffering. Major corporations should not be tied to instances of negligence & abuse. The same companies that produce our drugs, the universities that educate our children — these should not be halls of horror.
But they are.
Millions of animals die in laboratories every year in the U.S. — too many deaths to count. We are incapable of conceptualizing the mortality of millions of animals in any meaningful way. But we can look at individuals. We can find single victims to fill out the picture. They are found across our nation. Sometimes they have names; often they are known only by numbers — denied even the dignity of individuality.
Johns Hopkins University (JHU) researchers perform hundreds of experiments on thousands of animals every year. Monkeys, dogs, cats, rats, mice, and rabbits all suffer terribly at JHU.
During 1999 Riki, a rhesus monkey, died at JHU. This primate had received treatment for ulcers in 1996. During 1999 Riki was found to be biting his/her stifles, a form of self-mutilation. On 8/27/99 Riki was found lying on his/her side at noon. Examinations showed that Riki was in shock. The only treatment given was intravenous fluids. A government report states: “The primate was allowed to suffer and die, instead of being immediately humanely euthanized when the decision was made not to administer further treatment.”
Primate 58L, a marmoset, had surgery on 7/11/00 to place a head implant. On the day after surgery 58L was found shivering on a heating pad that had been turned off.
The University of Pennsylvania (PENN) is another large laboratory which kills tens of thousands of animals every year. During 2003 three cats labeled only F256, L372, and M036 died at PENN. Cats at PENN have suffered through stereotaxic procedures that placed electrodes into their brains. However, according to government documents the “researchers” at PENN cannot even keep accurate and complete records regarding the cats that they kill.
Two pigs at PENN were found without adequate water. The water bowl in one run was empty and turned upside down, the water for the other pig was brown. The animal caretakers were leaving the building at the time.
Primates at PENN are confined in restraint chairs or left in barren cages without even a perch for them to sit on. Baboons are isolated and not given anything to occupy their inquisitive minds.
PENN is also cited for many instances of unalleviated suffering in primates, sheep, and pigs. These animals had experienced surgical or experimental procedures without receiving pain relievers.
The University of Pittsburgh (PITT) also has a record of substantially abusing animals. One experiment at this facility deliberately deprives primates of water. While this is not illegal (though it is obviously inhumane), regulations require it to be done carefully, and only when the animals are being monitored closely. The officials at PITT were not monitoring the animals in any way to ensure their safety.
Another experiment at PITT causes rabbits to suffer horribly. This project keeps rabbits restrained continuously for 30 consecutive days, while the leg of the rabbit is kept in motion for the entire period. The folks at PITT did not even report this experiment as potentially causing pain or distress to the rabbits.
There are many instances where primates are unnecessarily isolated at PITT, and this isolation affects them mentally. At least one of the primates had begun to engage in the type of stereotypical pacing that indicates mental pathology in captive primates.
Duke University is another facility that substantially abuses animals in experimentation. One incident involving the neglect of a dog occurred during September of 2002. The dog was found hunched up in a cage, depressed and coughing. Treatment records for this dog were sketchy, and it was unclear what (if any) treatment the dog had received.
The majority of the primates at Duke were housed alone as of September 2002, with substantial effects of depression showing up in at least one primate. This Owl Monkey exhibited significant signs of distress including depression, self-clasping, and poor hair coat. Duke was cited for inadequate environmental enhancement for primates four times during 2001 and 2002.
During 2003 primates at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center suffered terribly due to inadequate shelter. One documented incident revealed that 60 primates were left outside without any shelter from the sun in 100 degree heat. The misters which were supposed to provide relief from the heat had not been turned on, and the primates were locked outside.
Many primates at the University of California, San Francisco are routinely victimized in experiments that deprive them of water. One primate suffered so terribly during this experimentation that he/she lost 15% of his/her body weight during an eight-month period.
Two bottlenose dolphins imprisoned at the University of Hawaii were subjected to severely bacterially contaminated water from August 25th through October 23rd of 2003.
Emory University is the home of the Yerkes Primate Research Center. This facility performs abusive experiments on thousands of primates every year. One of these primates was named only 3566. Internal documents from Emory have revealed the circumstances surrounding the death of this primate. MPTP is a drug that is administered to induce a state in primates that is similar to Parkinson's disease. In the week preceding March 16th of 2002 primate 3566 had received systemic treatments with MPTP. On March 16th, 2002 primate 3566 was found to be very lethargic. An antagonist to MPTP was administered on the 16th. 3566 seemed to have improved by the following day and was eating. By March 31, 2002 primate 3566 was again in a state of extreme lethargy. The MPTP antagonist was administered again. Since this was apparently a problem especially on weekends, arrangements were made for a lab tech to be available on weekends to deal with the situation. On April 14th, 2002 primate 3566 was again lethargic (on a weekend). The researcher who was responsible for 3566 was unavailable. A message was left for the lab tech regarding a further administration of the MPTP antagonist. On April 15th 2002 primate 3566 was found recumbent and stiff. 3566 was revived with CPR, but was extremely hypothermic (temperature was less than 90 degrees). The lab tech who was supposed to be responsible on weekends admitted that he did not check the animal on the previous day and that he hadn't come into work or checked his messages. Primate 3566 was found dead on April 16th, 2002.
Primate #14007 was housed alone at the State University of New York at Brooklyn. This primate had been kept in a room where it can neither see nor hear other primates. #14007 was kept in solitary confinement in this way for over two years. The experiment in which this animal was used did not require isolation. This psychological torture was totally unrelated to a specific experiment.
Universities are not the only labs that abuse animals. Private corporations often use animals in experimentation, and many of them suffer horribly. In some instances the suffering is not even due to experimentation, but rather due to simple negligence.
The Pfizer Corporation produces pharmaceuticals for both humans and animals. In laboratories cages are often run through washing systems that sterilize the cages, often using very high temperatures to sterilize the enclosures. On September 17, 2003 a horrible incident took place at the Kalamazoo Pfizer facility. A cage was run through the washing system which contained a living dog. The dog died horribly while in the cage washer.
These incidents of abuse occurred at ten facilities across the U.S. These abuses are common, far too common. Individual animals are suffering, constantly. These specific animals are often lost in the tidal wave in abuse. It is easy to loose track of individual animals when millions of animals suffer and die each year.
And it is far too easy to turn away. It is less painful to simply ignore the truth. But we cannot, we must not turn away from these victims. They have no hope but us. Their jailers will not turn them loose. Their prisons will not be eliminated. Their sentences will not be commuted.
They are more wretched than humans can ever be, for they don’t even have the ability to understand their fate. They cannot say that it is punishment for a crime. There is no justice in their confinement, only unmitigated suffering. There is no end to the litany of abuse. Their only release is in death.
As long as people like us do nothing this barrage of neglect, abuse and cruelty will continue unceasingly. The horror which is called animal experimentation — vivisection — will never end if we choose to turn away to protect our own feelings. The truth is unpleasant, the pictures are shocking, and the details of the animals’ suffering are almost too much to bear. Information of the specific facilities listed above is the result of analyzing hundreds of pages from government reports regarding dozens of laboratories. The continuous litany of abuse is too much to bear.
What are we to do about this insanity? How will we have an impact on this tsunami of suffering?
We must stand as a symbol of opposition to the inherent immorality of turning sentient beings into scientific apparatus. Our society must learn that intelligent animals are not equivalent to test tubes. It is up to us to teach this lesson.
How are we to undertake this task? How will we show the world the truth of the laboratory?
We must take to the streets. We must coordinate protests and other public events to draw attention to the growing tide of animal abuse. We must force the public to see inside the labs to understand the shocking reality which we understand only too well. We must bring the attention of the American public to the doors of the labs, and we must show them the horrors inside. Then, and only then, will we be on the way to ending animal experimentation.
World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week 2004 is April 17th through the 25th. The laboratories in your city must feel the pressure of our presence. The people who routinely abuse animals must know that we will be on their doorsteps until the animals are free.
Please join the fight for animal liberation. Visit World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week for events in your area and for help with investigating laboratories and planning your events. Or, contact us directly at [email protected] 513/575-5517.
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