Animal Cruelty

13 11 2006

Posted to a friend’s “wall” on Facebook by a gal from WVU (West Virginia?):



1. The University of Wisconsin-Madison
It’s tempting to call the University of Wisconsin-Madison the nexus of evil in the world, but we’ll simply call it the worst animal-abusing university in the country. UW-Madison has a long tradition of animal abuse—including Professor Harry Harlow’s infamous 1950s-era studies in which baby monkeys were torn from their mothers and placed next to abusive mechanical “monster mothers.” Today, UW-Madison continues this shameful tradition by keeping approximately 2,500 primates imprisoned—with an estimated 500 confined to isolation cages—and performing painful and distressing experiments on more than 850 each year.

please students get involved and do something about this….i read it and it was disturbing if its your university you have a say so!!


My response:

I saw your post on a friend’s wall about primate research at UW. I agree that animal cruelty is wrong, and Wisconsin has strict regulations against cruelty: . In this story, the author cites an instance when a researcher lost her research privileges for two years. The other incident was likely a result of neglect. The story offers a balanced view of the situation.

A researcher from the university rebuts an anti-research advocate here: .

He makes a good point that we are slowing the AIDS pandemic through publishing research that may be used to detect AIDS earlier, to treat it or even to cure it.

My dad worked for a business in a building used by the University of Minnesota. His work was on the main floor while animal research took place in the basement. Golden retrievers, a common research dog, were used to test lung and heart transplant techniques. The animals received a transplant, then they were monitored to see how they responded to the transplant. Doubtless, many of the dogs died. My dad owned a golden retriever for a good portion of his life, and it broke his heart to see the dogs lying there dying. Still, you’ve got to believe that the research done 15-30 years ago of this nature helped researchers understand how transplants worked such that transplants we see as common and fairly safe now were able to be made safe.

That being said, I don’t disagree that animal researchers should go unchecked by non-government, non-institutional organizations. We all need to be concerned about cruelty to animals.

I suggest that those concerns be directed at farms that raise millions of chickens, pigs, turkeys and cows in squalor to be sold to consumers who are interested in the cheapest meat. This kind of animal abuse doesn’t just cause animal suffering. It leads to bioaccumulation of antibiotics and possible spread of prions, the protein fragments that cause brain degenerative diseases. You’re looking at millions of commercially-raised farm animals versus a few thousand (total, nationwide!) primates. A good question to ask then is, “Are we favoring animals based on their likeness to humans or based on whether or not they feel pain.

I’m an entomology major, and I work with insects frequently. I rarely work with live insects but rather with dead ones that have been trapped, often in a way that, had it been a mammal or a human, would have been cruel. Such techniques include getting stuck on a piece of cardstock and starving, drowning in antifreeze and death by cyanide gassing. Do insects elicit the kind of sympathy? Maybe if they’re butterflies, but what if they’re moths? Ants? Cockroaches? In addition, I have the knowledge that insects don’t feel pain. Still, they die.

My message is not “Allow animal research.” It’s, “Beware misinformation!” Don’t necessarily believe every shred of information presented to you in print, even if it looks official. Investigate many forms of information, your religious beliefs, your gut reaction and you stance on humanity’s role in the world. I care passionately about animals, but I care more passionately about the majority of the human race.


I leave you with a quote from the Dalai Lama at the Society for Neuroscience (the best reference I could track for this:

“It is a difficult question, [as it] is a difficult [duty]. I will answer, as I do, to the question of many Tibetan Buddhists who are not vegetarians,” he grinned. “I encourage the minimum use of experiments on animals, the absolute minimum amount of pain. Only perform highly necessary experiments, and as little pain as possible. If it must be done, [if that is your path, it is compassionate] to kill out of necessity, but only with empathy. Hold in you the sense of the compassionate. ‘I [acknowledge] that I exploit this animal to bring greater benefit to a great number of sentient beings.’ You must feel the sacrifice, in your heart. It is “never made lightly.”




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