Tuesday marked the start of a week-long airing of a graphic television commercial on CNN, FOX News and Animal planet in California portraying images of primates being abused at the California National Primate Research Center affiliated with UC Davis.
The commercial, funded by Stop Animal Abuse Now, aims to halt what the group considers to be violations of federal law regarding issues of animal rights at the government-funded research center as well as similar centers at UCLA and UCSF.
The ad will air in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and Davis. It begins with the phrase “this is torture” and depicts monkeys strapped into restraint chairs with their necks constricted by metal bands. One image shows a monkey with cylindrical objects near its head, implying they have been bolted into its skull.
“These primate research centers are engaging research practices that are directly tied to violations of federal law,” said Michael Budkie, SAEN spokesperson and executive director.
Budkie is currently in the process of suing UCLA for failure to release documents regarding primate research and has issued a formal complaint against the UCSF for animal abuse violations.
University officials at Davis claim these accusations are invalid and outdated.
“We’ve heard these allegations before,” said Andy Fell, director of the UC Davis News Room. “The animals at the primate center are well cared for, the USDA has made 28 unannounced inspections this year and have encountered no violations of federal law.“
Dallas Hyde, director of the Center, denies the photos in the commercial came from this facility.
“What I find interesting is that the photos being shown in the commercial are not from the California National Primate Research Center” Hyde said. “I can honestly say I think we run a very good facility here in terms of animal care.“
Budkie says that although the photos come from the Primate Vision Experiment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, details from primate health care records at CNPRC reveal that this kind of research is being conducting there too.
Other accusations made by SAEN concern the expenses surrounding primate research, which has been conducted nationwide since the early 1960s.
“In the past years [primate research centers] have cumulatively wasted approximately $100 million on 52 grants funding people across the nation to conduct the same research simultaneously at 25 laboratories,” Budkie said. “Animal research isn’t about health or science, it’s about money. It is a business.“
Research conducted at these facilities include studies to develop AIDS vaccines in which primates are infected by the simian immunodeficiency virus.
“Primates aren’t subject to HIV,” Budkie said. “You can’t study a human disease in a different species.“
UC Davis officials refute these accusations by citing the development of drugs such as Tenofovir, a pharmaceutical that was developed at the California National Primate Research Center.
“Virtually all retroviral medicines are developed using non human primates,” said Dallas Hyde, director the Center. “Tenofovir blocks transmission of HIV from mother to infant during pregnancy, it works very well and it is being used extensively in Africa right now.“
Established in 1962, the CNPRC is located on 300 acres west of campus, has staff of 300 and currently houses 4,700 monkeys.
CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgXXX