Protestors target lab treatment of animals

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Protestors target lab treatment of animals

By Daniel Santoro,, October 17, 2011

A coalition of animal rights activists protested the University’s alleged mistreatment of animals used in research at the intersection of Nassau Street and Washington Road on Saturday.
The protest resulted from an anonymous letter written by a former University laboratory employee detailing various animal conduct violations. The letter was published online by the group Stop Animal Exploitation Now! on Sept. 29. Included with the letter were graphic pictures of distressed primates and dead rats allegedly taken at the University by the anonymous employee.

The coalition of protestors included 10 to 15 activists from a variety of organizations based in New Jersey and New York throughout the afternoon. Individual protestors held poster-sized photos from the original anonymous letter. Activist organizers read anti-primate testing statements using a bullhorn.

The coalition of protesters was also outraged by the University’s April 2011 USDA inspection report which showed violations including enduring periods of water deprivation and a temporarily escaped marmoset.

The University received an official USDA warning about these violations and other non-compliance violations last June.

Anthony Botti, founder and organizer of the group Friends of Animals United NJ, said he was encouraged by the show of solidarity on Saturday. “It is very difficult to travel around as an animal activist group because we have limited resources,” he said. “We are looking to spread awareness here and alert the students, faculty and people in the community who care about animals.”

Botti said that the protest aimed to expose and educate people in the University community about what has been happening in the labs. “We’re asking that the University stop using primates and animals in research,” he said. “At the very least, we want the president of the University to put a hiatus on research until these violations are resolved.”

University spokesperson Martin Mbugua has reiterated the University’s stance on research as well as its desire to remain in full compliance with the regulations. “Animal research and care is critical to advancing healthcare and technology for humans and therefore Princeton University takes the utmost care to ensure our small program is run in full compliance with federal and University procedures,” Mbugua said in an email last week. “We take any and all allegations seriously and are committed to the care and welfare of animals.”

Mbugua added that over the past few years, the University has strengthened its Institutional Animal Care and Use procedures by adding more personnel and offering more training for them. He also said that in spite of the lack of evidence in the letter, the University is considering an inquiry into the matter.

Dorothy James, a resident of New Jersey who participated in the protest, said she has always been opposed to vivisection, the cutting of live animals. “Human disease cannot be replicated in animals, period, never,” she said. “Princeton is full of intelligent people so they should be able to figure out a better way.”

Robert Bonelli of New York said he saw the SAEN coverage on the organization’s website and felt compelled to come and join the protest. “I cancelled my plans for the day and needed to find a ride out here,” he said. “What brings me here [are] pictures of vivisection and severed primate heads. Animal abuse is a dirty little secret. If it weren’t something shameful, they wouldn’t try to hide it.”

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