Protesters decry research
By Alfred Lee, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 10/15/2008 10:36:05 PM PDT
PASADENA - Animal rights activists Monday gathered in front of
the Caltech campus to protest primate research at the institute.
Organized by animal rights groups Stop Animal Exploitation Now
and Last Chance for Animals, as part of "National Primate Liberation
Week," the protestors focused their demonstration largely on Richard
Andersen, the James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience at Caltech,
who has received federal grant money to do research into the visual
nervous systems of monkeys.
"Hey Andersen, what do you say? How many animals did you kill
today?" and "Tax dollars down the drain! Vivisection is to blame!"
the protesters chanted.
After about an hour, the group of about a dozen demonstrators
marched north on Wilson Avenue, with the intention of moving closer
to Andersen's offices.
Protest spokesman Rick Corbett said primate experiments can
include drilling metal screws into the heads of monkeys, forcing
their eyelids to remain open, and depriving them of food and water
to encourage certain responses. The National Eye Institute currently
funds 75 grants for such studies, he added.
The activists distanced themselves from some of the more radical
animal rights groups that advocate violence.
"We put most of our time into Freedom of Information requests and
then getting information out," Stop Animal Exploitation Now
volunteer Julia Mac- Kenzie said.
Caltech spokesman Jon Weiner said, as a matter of policy, the
institute does not comment on specific protests.
But a Caltech news release stated the institute is "committed to
the humane treatment of laboratory animals and complies with all
guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals provided by
the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of
The statement also said Caltech's work with laboratory animals
has led to better treatments for cancer patients, a better
understanding of the link between influenza and schizophrenia,
insight into nicotine addiction, and work on a vaccine that may one
day help prevent HIV/AIDS.
The protesters were met with some hostility. One man made an
obscene gesture from across the street. Another confronted them,
urging them to "go away."
Motorist Fuhlin Hsin, meanwhile, saw the commotion as she was
driving by and felt impelled to join the protest.
"I couldn't just drive by and do nothing," she said.
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