Animal rights group produces ad charging UC with mistreatment of lab monkeys

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Animal rights group produces ad charging UC with mistreatment of lab monkeys

By Peter Hecht, McClatchy Newspapers,  April 27, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif.-An animal rights group has produced a television commercial charging University of California, Davis and three other University of California campuses of mistreating monkeys during laboratory research.

The 30-second ad, which Ohio-based Stop Animal Exploitation Now says will run in California on CNN, Fox and Animal Planet, depicts photos of harnessed monkeys and claims "torture ... is happening now at the University of California."

UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell characterized the ad as an attempt to discredit animal research that offers benefits in fighting disease and providing knowledge on conditions including malaria, HIV, allergies, Alzheimer's and autism.

"It is not intended to be a fair ad," he said. "SAEN is a group whose objective is to shut down all animal research."

The spot, showing graphic photos of monkeys being restrained, doesn't say where the pictures were taken or how they were obtained. The ad is in line with animal rights activists' assertions that monkeys should be spared pain and suffering in research of questionable value.

"This is torture," says a voice and written text in the ad as images flash of restrained monkeys. "Strapped into restraint chairs. Bolts in their heads. Deprived of water. Is this a prison camp? It's worse. Your tax dollars pay for this. It's not science. It's animal abuse happening now at the University of California."

The ad, which goes on to solicit donations for the group, protests primate research at UC Davis, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley. The animal rights group has purchased ad slots between Monday and Sunday in California markets.

UC Davis has 6,000 monkeys. Fell said the university follows strict federal regulations for humane treatment of research animals.

"Animal research is very strictly regulated under federal law," Fell said. He said humane treatment of research animals "is a responsibility we take very seriously."

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited UC Davis for using a monkey in research studies despite evidence it was in ill health with vomiting, hair loss and behavioral problems. The report said the university failed to adequately document veterinary care for the monkey, which was euthanized in 2008.

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