(U-WIRE) ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Three years following the
last notable animal rights protest on the University of Michigan campus,
a group of 15 gathered Thursday on the Medical Campus to protest the use
of thousands of animals in research labs, including primates.
Though primates make up less than 1 percent of
research subjects in labs on campus, the University receives more than
$4 million in grants each year for research using primates.
The protesters stood at the corner of Glen and
Catherine streets, across from Angelo's Restaurant, holding signs with
graphic photos of primates in laboratories.
"These photos do not show U-M primates and none of
them were taken in U-M research laboratories," University Health System
said in a written statement.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now Director Michael Budkie
said the photos were taken in laboratories at the University of
"They accurately represent what happens here," Budkie
The group has obtained documents from the University
showing that animals have died from abuse in University laboratories,
Budkie said, adding he has assisted in research using animals and that
their condition might negate the studies' scientific value.
"Because of what happens to primates they develop
bacterial ... infections," he said, adding that the results might be
The protest also drew attention from the Department of
Public Safety. At least three DPS patrol cars were seen in the area, as
well as two police officers on bicycles.
"We have no reason to expect anything but peaceful
demonstrations, but DPS is planning extra security, just in case," the
Students and community members waiting at Angelo's
Restaurant were surprised by the protest and the response from DPS.
"It is kind of in your face," said LSA junior Katie
Moore, who likened the graphic photos of animal test subjects to the
photographs of aborted fetuses brought to campus in 2000 by the Genocide
"Their protest was successful," Moore added, as the
University administration's attention helped draw attention to the
LSA Junior Kristina Burg was surprised at the police
presence. "I wonder if it's kind of admitting guilt," Burg said. "This
isn't the L.A. riots."
But protesters said they were not surprised by the
"I think that since we are challenging a deeply
embedded institution whose members are held in high esteem, they feel
threatened," said Laura Rowlson, a Metro Detroit animal-rights activist
who organized the protest. She added the animal research position papers
issued by the University are "outright propaganda."
"There's a misconception that animal rights activists
... are a fringe element. We're not. We have been informed about the
issues," Rowlson said, adding that protest organizers had been in
contact with members of the Michigan Animal Rights Society, an animal
rights student group on campus.
University researchers conduct studies on a large
number of animals -- mostly rats and mice, but also a smaller number of
Medical professor James Woods, who researches drug
addiction in rhesus monkeys, has received the brunt of criticism from
animal rights groups.
"He's our target here," Rowson said, adding she feels
the studies Woods conducts are unnecessary.
"There are duplicative studies ... several hundred
very similar studies in the last several years," Rowson said. "The only
people who will cite animal research are other animal researchers."
Budke said drug addiction experimentation on primates
brings more than $2.5 million annually to the University.
"The overwhelming amount of (University research) is
mice and rats," said Howard Rush, director of the University's Unit for
Laboratory Animal Medicine. He added that National Primate Liberation
Week had received press attention so the University decided to prepare
material for reporters.