Thursday, September 30, 2010

Classic Evidence of Self-Awareness Not Sufficient to Deter UW-Madison Invasive Brain Experiments on Monkeys; Vivisectors Delighted by News

For first time, monkeys recognize themselves in the mirror, indicating self-awareness
Sept. 29, 2010
by David Tenenbaum

..... a study published today (Sept. 29) by Luis Populin, a professor of anatomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shows that under specific conditions, a rhesus macaque monkey that normally would fail the mark test can still recognize itself in the mirror and perform actions that scientists would expect from animals that are self-aware.

..... Populin, who studies the neural basis of perception and behavior, had placed head implants on two rhesus macaque monkeys, while preparing to study attention deficit disorder. Then Abigail Rajala, an experienced animal technician who is in the university's Neuroscience Training Program, mentioned that one of the monkeys could recognize himself in a small mirror. "I told her the scientific literature says they can't do this," says Populin, "so we decided to do a simple study."

Much to his delight*, it turned out that the graduate student was right.
*Poplin thought to himself, "It's delightful that the monkeys I'm mutilating actually realize what's happening to them. My job's even more fun now!"

Vimeo is sometimes glitchy. You may have to click on the screen or even refresh to get the video to play. [Imagine spending your entire life in a cramped cell like this and completely alone. It's no wonder vivisectors and university administrators are averse to substantive discussions about the ethics of using primates.]

You can read the entire paper here: Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) Do Recognize Themselves in the Mirror: Implications for the Evolution of Self-Recognition. be sure to look at the movies and the images.

Here's what Populin writes about one of the movies: "The view of the head implant has been blocked for discretion."

Discretion: circumspect; heedful of circumstances and potential consequences; prudent.

Here's one of the images -- also censored out of concern over the potential consequences of allowing the public to have a feeling for what these isolated monkeys undergo in a university lab:

You can glean a little of what Populin's lab does to monkeys (and cats) in this paper, in which he writes about his experiments on Shepard, Glenn, and Conrad: Monkey Sound Localization: Head-Restrained versus Head-Unrestrained Orienting. Luis C. Populin. The Journal of Neuroscience, September 20, 2006.

See too: "The Behaving Preparation." August 6, 2009.

And: Monkeys See Selves in Mirror, Open a Barrel of Questions

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is the use of sentient animals in basic research justifiable?

From Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 2010, 5:14.
Is the use of sentient animals in basic research justifiable?

Ray Greek and Jean Greek


Animals can be used in many ways in science and scientific research. Given that society values sentient animals and that basic research is not goal oriented, the question is raised: "Is the use of sentient animals in basic research justifiable?" We explore this in the context of funding issues, outcomes from basic research, and the position of society as a whole on using sentient animals in research that is not goal oriented. We conclude that the use of sentient animals in basic research cannot be justified in light of society's priorities.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Christopher Coe on Res 35

The Dane County Board of Supervisors received emailed letters from twenty-three people and organizations opposed to Resolution 35. Two of these were from local private citizens. The two organizations were BioForward and the National Association for Biomedical Research, both adamant promoters of vivisection and the vivisection industry. The other nineteen were from people with a clear financial or professional interest in the continuation of publicly funded experiments on monkeys. I listed them here.

I thought it might be interesting to look at some of these letters and give some thought to the claims that were made. I'll start with Christopher Coe's. For comparison, you can read eleven letters written in support of the resolution here. (Which group contains the more cogent letters? This is good evidence that facts and reason may be insufficient to convince people to act reasonably or responsibly.)

You can read Dr. Coe’s original email here. I've rebutted his oral statements here.

Let’s look at his specific assertions:

1. “There are many reasons why this is not an appropriate domain and approach for the Dane County Board to take, including the obvious issue of whether the question and implicit conclusions aren’t based on inaccurate information.”

I don’t think Dr. Coe is someone who thinks very clearly. I’m of the opinion that employment in a field that awards mediocrity and provides lavish salaries in the absence of useful productive work breeds intellectual laziness and a grotesquely false impression of one’s opinions. Vivisection may be the penultimate example of this phenomenon.

Coe’s guess as to the resolution’s “implicit conclusions” looks as if he is projecting his belief that an unbiased close look at the use of monkeys at the university will necessarily be unfavorable to him and his colleagues.

But his assertion that the questions raised by the resolution are based on inaccurate information is either laughable or another instance of a UW-Madison professor’s abuse of authority. First and obviously, the university uses monkeys. Second, criticisms of the labs’ daily practices have come from well-informed experts, including two past veterinarians from the UW primate center and the USDA. And third, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that monkeys’ subjective experiences are much like ours.

2. “Many would argue that it is, in fact, unethical not to conduct research on incurable and debilitating illnesses when we have the means and tools to do so.”

This is an example of the shallow thinking nurtured by white coat welfare. Following Coe’s logic, it would have been unethical for J. Marion Sims not to have experimented on slave women.

3. “While most members of the animal rights movements are well intentioned, many of their views are misguided and based on insufficient and biased information.”

Animal rights movements? Maybe we should look these up on the Internets.

This is another example of Coe’s false self-image. The arrogance in this claim is clear. I strongly doubt that Coe is very well informed. How many USDA inspection reports has he read? How conversant is he with the evidence regarding monkeys’ emotions and cognition? Is he even aware of the growing recognition that modern basic biomedical research is largely an embarrassing failure?

The confusion and illogic of his claim are made even clearer when he states later that the majority of Americans support animal research. He must believe that the average person sampled in the typical opinion poll is well informed about the use of animals in research, but that people with an interest in this matter are not. He argues on the one hand that critics are uninformed and thus their opinions should be discounted, but then defends his industry by pointing to the opinions of likely uninformed people. Such muddle-headedness is unlikely to lead to answers to difficult medical questions. He should be fired.

4. “It seems that the Board is overreaching and stepping onto a very slippery slope by considering a resolution that even hints at censorship and the imposition of constraints on intellectual and academic freedom.”

But Coe will also (mistakenly) say if asked, that his industry operates under tight regulation and is subjected to oversight from a number of bodies. Arguably, every germane regulation imposes some constraint on intellectual and/or academic freedom.

Moreover, as was pointed out by nearly everyone, the county has no power to regulate the university. It can only state an opinion. Coe’s claim is way out in left field completely adrift from reality.

5. “What would come next? Would one be prohibited from teaching about the knowledge gained from prior studies with primates?

6. “Would the Board consider going so far as to propose that we not use vaccines and other medical treatments that were derived from research on primates?

Is Coe suggesting here that women should forgo repair of a vesicovaginal fistula, the procedure developed on slave women by J. Marion Sims? I wonder whether he was frothing at the mouth when he wrote that.

These two claims are not only silly, but also wildly misleading. There are few clear examples of primates as irreplaceable elements in the development of vaccines, medicines, or treatments. Coe’s claims are nothing other than his expression of faith, like a belief in the Holy Ghost or a hollow Earth.

7. “Recent polls indicate that the majority of Americans still favor the use of animals in biomedical research providing that it is done humanely.”

Aside from the twisted logic that compelled him to make this contradictory claim, he seems to have made it up. What recent polls is he referring to? His claim is misleading or uninformed.

Here’s a recent summary of the results of opinion polls on this topic
Concerns about poll methodologies are also voiced in the academic literature. For example, Hagelin and colleagues published an overall analysis of 56 surveys on animal research [from around the world]. They discovered that between 27% and 100% support animal research, and a range of 0–68% people are opposed. Part of the explanation for this dramatic variation is due to design issues, for example how questions are phrased. Hobson-West P. The role of 'public opinion' in the UK animal research debate. 2010 36: 46-49 J Med Ethics.
The most recent poll on this question I know of was a 2009 poll from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. See my post regarding this poll here. I don’t think Coe knows what he is talking about.

9. “There are many other compelling reasons...”.

Which must be even less compelling than the top “reasons” he cited above.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Who killed Res 35?

The simple answer is the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

In spite of repeated claims that any discussion about the ethics of experiments on monkeys would be pointless and redundant and not worth anyone’s time, this “trivial” matter motivated letters to the Dane County Board from UW-Chancellor Biddy Martin, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Paul DeLuca Jr., as well as public testimony from Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Martin Cadwallader.

Working behind the scenes with university on this matter that deserved no consideration, was apparently, Dane County Supervisor Chair Scott Mcdonell.

It seems reasonable, given the university’s reticence and decades-long history of lies, cover-ups, and spin that Res 35 sponsor Supervisor Al Matano was correct when he said that the proposed forums are “a cynical, manipulative ploy” intended to stop Res 35.

The proof is in the vegan pudding, of course, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the university actually comes up with. In the meantime, we can at least speculate and look at the make-up of the committee they have formed, the questions they say will be addressed, and those questions not mentioned, to get some idea of the possible results.

So here’s the committee make-up announced by the university:

Eric Sandgren, animal researcher, Director of the Research Animal Resource Center, and main UW spokesperson when local or national media covers embarrassing problems with the university’s animal use. He will lead the forum-planning group.

David Abbott, a UW-Madison professor and scientist at the Wisconsin National Primate Center.

Simon Peek, a veterinarian at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Eric Sandgren is also a veterinarian, but veterinarian is not equivalent to a concern for animals. For instance, in a 2008 paper Peek explains that he used nineteen Holstein bull calves between 24 and 48 hours old and infused E. coli directly into their jugular veins over a three-hour period. The authors wrote: “During the 3-h period of endotoxin infusion, experimental calves demonstrated characteristic clinical signs consistent with endotoxemia; specifically mild tachypnea [rapid breathing], mild pyrexia [fever], and depression (increased tendency to lie down, loss of suckle reflex).” The big discovery? “This is the first time that biochemical evidence of cardiac injury has been documented in calves with endotoxemia.” The calves were sold commercially following the conclusion of the study. (Cardiac isoenzymes in healthy Holstein calves and calves with experimentally induced endotoxemia. Peek SF, Apple FS, Murakami MA, Crump PM, Semrad SD. Can J Vet Res. 2008.)

Robert Streiffer is a bioethicist at UW-Madison and chair of the Letters and Sciences Animal Care and Use Committee which approves all the experiments at the Harlow lab, among others. Streiffer argues that compliance with state and federal law is ethical use.

Patricia McConnell is an animal behaviorist, author and adjunct professor of zoology at UW-Madison. She has argued that we must eat sheep in order to stop them from going extinct. (Really.) She has often misled her students about the value of Harry Harlow’s horrific career at the university.

Lisa Kane is an attorney and author with an interest in captive elephant welfare, but only limited (if any) knowledge of animal research at the university.

And Paula Rinelli, who the university pointed out is a member of the Alliance for Animals. Ms Rinelli recommended Ms Kane in order to have someone else on the committee who shared her concern for animals. Ms Rinelli is not a representative of the Alliance for Animals and may even be a member of other animal rights organizations. Ms Rinelli has attended multiple university animal care and use committee meetings and is well-known to Sandgren. Ms Rinelli may have been asked to participate simply because she is an Alliance member, and having an Alliance member on the committee might make it seem more inclusive to the public and may have helped create a handy smokescreen for Supervisors trying to find a way to avoid a fair response to concerned citizens regarding Res 35.

So that’s the planning committee. Does it seem balanced to you?

Now let’s look at the questions Cadwallader and DeLuca have said will be addressed in the forums, and the questions they haven’t asked.

1. How are animals viewed in our and other societies?

A better question would be: How has the view of animals by our and other societies changed over the past 100 years?

2. What is the value of research with animals?

We can answer that question in two ways. Regarding the economic value: experiments on monkeys at the university brought in more than $46 million in research grants in 2008-09.

Regarding the value to patients: “judging by the only criterion that matters to patients and taxpayers—not how many interesting discoveries about cells or genes or synapses have been made, but how many treatments for diseases the money has bought—the return on investment to the American taxpayer has been approximately as satisfying as the AIG bailout.”

3. Are experiments involving animals necessary?

Yes, if the goal is to keep the research labs open and generating income for the university. No, if the goal is improvement in patient care.

4. Are there alternatives to animal use in research and teaching?


5. Is animal research ethical?

Yes, when the animals are not confined or manipulated, as in observational studies. Yes, in clinical research intended to help the subject, or do them no likely harm.

No, when animals are confined for long periods or harmed.

6. How are experiments designed to answer a question?

If harming animals is unethical, then this question is unimportant.

7. Who funds animal research and how does the funding process work?

The National Institutes of Health funds the overwhelming majority of research at the universities. The funding process in incestuous. Researchers control who gets funded.

8. Who looks out for the animals?

No one. All claims to the contrary are either intended to mislead the public or else are claims made by a the tiny few caring insiders with essentially no power to protect any of them. The proof is in the pudding. Essentially every one of the untold thousands of animals used in the UW-Madison labs either dies as a result of the experiments or is killed.

9. What are the levels of oversight?

Given the repeated violations [USDA_2007][USDA 2009] of the minimal and weak laws slightly regulating the university’s use of animals, and the plain fact that essentially all of them die or are killed, the “levels of oversight” is an arcane matter with little consequence. The question in and of itself is propaganda.

10. What happens when animals are no longer needed for research purposes?

See above.

What questions or topics aren’t on this list?

1. Why did the university really shred 628 videos of their experiments on monkeys after denying repeated public records requests for just one of them?

2. What is actually done to the monkeys in Michele Basso’s, Ei Terasawa’s, or Maria Emborg’s experiments? Will there be videos shown at the forums or pictures projected?

3. Why is the university afraid of a non-aligned group of citizens asking questions about the ethics of experiments on monkeys?

4. How do they explain the repeated serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act?

5. Why weren’t UW-Madison animal researchers knowledgeable about Wisconsin’s Crimes Against Animals statutes?

6. Why does the university feel it should be exempt from the laws that govern everyone else?

7. Why did the university abandon the Vilas stump-tailed macaques?

8. Why did past primate center director Joe Kemnitz lie to a student reporter when asked about the university’s agreement not to use the monkeys at the Vilas Zoo? Why wasn't he disciplined?
[According to Bogle, Primate Center directors and members signed three different letters in 1989, 1990 and 1995, stating the center would not perform harmful experiments on the monkeys unless a monkey had unique genetic traits.

UW Primate Center director Joe Kemnitz said UW never entered into an agreement like that because it would not make sense.]
9. Why isn’t the university honest with the public?

10. Why is ethical to experiment on monkeys but not ethical to raise humans, lock them in cages for their entire lives, and perform painful experiments on them?

Res 35 probably dead

Campus Connection: County Board says no more monkey business
By Todd Finkelmeyer | Capital Times | September 17, 2010.

Efforts to convince the Dane County Board to form a citizens advisory panel to examine whether or not experimenting on monkeys at UW-Madison is humane and ethical are dead following a vote Thursday night at the City County Building.

The push to pass a resolution which would create this panel was originally co-sponsored by 13 county supervisors and gained momentum earlier this summer thanks to a persistent and passionate group of local activists.

The resolution was initially backed by the Health and Human Needs Committee on June 29 but later stalled in the Executive Committee on July 8.

So on Sept. 2, Board member Al Matano -- who was lead sponsor of the resolution -- moved to withdraw it from committee so the entire Board could vote on the issue. But Thursday night at the City County Building, his motion to withdraw was voted down 22-13. If a simple majority of board members had given this motion the thumbs up, the discussion about whether or not to back Resolution 35 (see pages 5-8 of this document) would have been taken up at the County Board's Oct. 7 meeting.

Instead, the debate comes to an abrupt halt.

"This was a vote against the democratic process," says Rick Marolt, an area consultant and part-time business lecturer who has spent the better part of the past five years trying to get someone -- anyone -- to push the university for more public self-examination on this hot-button topic of whether experimenting on monkeys is ethical. "It was a vote against having a public discussion about an issue a lot of people care about and for which there is no other meaningful forum."

County Board member Mike Willett, however, argued passionately Thursday night against bringing this issue out of committee and before the full Board because he didn't feel the Dane County Board was the proper body to hear this debate.

"Some citizens have come to expect we have some sort of authority to do something about this issue, but we don't," said Willett. "We don't have any authority, none at all. ... It's wonderful to have citizen input and I really appreciate the citizens being interested in this (topic). But we aren't the place. We don't have the authority to make any changes in this issue whatsoever."

Backers of the resolution -- which asks the chair of the Board to appoint five to nine county residents to gather information and interview experts on monkeys, laboratory conditions and the ethics of experimenting on non-human primates -- were hoping the Dane County Board was going to become the first elected body in the United States to mandate this controversial topic be examined closer.

"I have some constituents who feel very strongly about Resolution 35," Board member Kyle Richmond said while speaking in favor of putting the resolution in front of the full Board. "And I know some people feel very strongly on the other side of this debate. So that's precisely why we should bring this to the floor and the whole Board should be able to debate this."

Added Board member Patrick Downing: "The university is supposed to be a place dedicated to the sifting and winnowing of facts to arrive at truth. I can't understand why they would not want to entertain further discussion about this."


And this:

Dane County Board strikes down monkey motion
Some members of body see ethics forums to be held by UW are cheap ploys to stop legislation

Jennifer Zettel | Badger Herald | September 16, 2010.

Members of the Dane County Board of Supervisors voted down a resolution to create an advisory panel specifically focused on animal research conducted at the University of Wisconsin Thursday night.

Resolution 35 sought to analyze the ethics of experimentation on non-human primates within Dane County, the conditions the animals are under during the experimentation process, and whether or not the animals have a right to retire, said Supervisor Al Matano, Dist. 11.

The Board voted not to move forward with the resolution by a 22-13 margin.

Had the vote passed, the Dane County Board would have voted on whether or not to establish the committee at the October meeting, Matano said.

Even if a committee had been created and found UW’s practices unethical, Matano said nothing would change — the panel would be for the public’s knowledge only.

Supervisor Mike Willett, District 32, said he opposed the resolution’s progress because the Board does not have the authority to influence UW policy.

Specifically, if the Board passed the motion, Willett said he wanted to know where the Board would draw the line on interfering with UW policy.

“If we start talking about this, what are we going to start talking about next?” Willett asked. “Maybe we should ban some books while we’re at it.”

Mantano said he supported the resolution because the thought of such intelligent animals being kept in cages disturbed him.

“I feel essentially that experimentation on animals is an industry driven for profit and the prestige of the research institution,” he added.

UW announced the planning of public forums on animal research Sept. 10, in an effort to increase transparency with the community.

Matano said UW proposed the forums to stop Resolution 35’s passage, calling it “a cynical, manipulative ploy.”

more ...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Opposition to Res 35

We were recently able to review the comments emailed to the Dane County Board of Supervisors regarding Resolution 35. For more on the resolution visit

Of particular interest is the fact that the overwhelming majority of the people who don’t want the county to establish a Citizens' Advisory Panel to look into the use of monkeys at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are either directly involved in animal experimentation at the university, or else, are involved in the industry in some other way.

Here is a complete list of the people and organizations that took the time to email the Dane County Board of Supervisors to voice their opposition to Resolution 35.

The two marked (undisclosed) failed to identify themselves as employees of the university.

Biddy Martin, Chancellor, UW-Madison
Christopher Coe, Director, Harlow Primate Lab, UW-Madison
Andrew-Parker, Applicant for UW-Madison Primate Center Directorship
Lawrence Jacobsen, Librarian (Retired), UW-Madison Primate Center
Ted Golos (1) (2), Scientist, UW-Madison Primate Center
Saverio “Buddy” Capuano (1) (2), Veterinarian and Scientist, UW-Madison Primate Center
Thomas Friedrich, Scientist, UW-Madison Primate Center
Cynthia G. Fowler, Affiliate Scientist, UW-Madison Primate Center
Brian Kenealy (1) (2), Research Assistant, UW-Madison Primate Center (undisclosed)
David Abbott, Scientist, UW-Madison Primate Center
Nancy Spilker, Colony Records, UW-Madison Primate Center
Gretta Borchardt, Senior Research Specialist in David Watkins’s primate lab, UW-Madison
Matt Reynolds, Assistant in David Watkins’s primate lab, UW-Madison
Holly McEntee, staff, Research Animal Resource Center, UW-Madison
Lynn Rusch, staff, Research Animal Resource Center, UW-Madison (undisclosed)
Mark Cook, Scientist, Department of Animal Sciences, UW-Madison
Richard Atkinson, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences, UW-Madison
Marge Sutinen, Director, MATEC-WI, UW-Madison
William R. Morton, Paris NHP (current) and Director (retired), University of Washington Primate Center
BioForward, “the member-driven state association that is the voice of Wisconsin’s biotechnology industry” representing, among others, the largest importer and consumer of monkeys in the world: Covance
National Association for Biomedical Research, animal research industry front group
And two apparently local citizens.

Desperately Seeking Cures...

... or, "How the road from promising scientific breakthrough to real-world remedy has become all but a dead end."

Next time you hear a scientist who uses animals in basic research make claims about how important their work is, remember this observation from the May 15, 2010 issue of Newsweek:
From 1998 to 2003, the budget of the NIH—which supports such research at universities and medical centers as well as within its own labs in Bethesda, Md.—doubled, to $27 billion, and is now $31 billion. There is very little downside, for a president or Congress, in appeasing patient-advocacy groups as well as voters by supporting biomedical research. But judging by the only criterion that matters to patients and taxpayers—not how many interesting discoveries about cells or genes or synapses have been made, but how many treatments for diseases the money has bought—the return on investment to the American taxpayer has been approximately as satisfying as the AIG bailout. “Basic research is healthy in America,” says John Adler, a Stanford University professor who invented the CyberKnife, a robotic device that treats cancer with precise, high doses of radiation. “But patients aren’t benefiting. Our understanding of diseases is greater than ever. But academics think, ‘We had three papers in Science or Nature, so that must have been [NIH] money well spent.’?” [my emphasis] Mary Carmichael and Sharon Begley, Newsweek. May 15, 2010
Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

UW Abandoned Threatened Monkeys Nearly Two-Thirds Dead

Alliance for Animals

P.O. Box 1632, Madison, Wisconsin 53701
Phone: 608-257-6333

September 8, 2010

UW Abandoned Threatened Monkeys
Nearly Two-Thirds Dead

Madison, Wisc.... The United States Department of Agriculture is scrambling to find homes for approximately 204 primates and an additional 114 other large animals after years of serious violations of the US Animal Welfare Act including inadequate and improper food. Twenty-two of those monkeys are the survivors of the large colony sent there by the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1998.

In 1998, the UW-Madison acknowledged that it had violated multiple written agreements with Dane County not to use monkeys from the Henry Vilas Zoo in harmful experiments. They violated the agreements one final time by sending 143 of the monkeys into terminal research at Tulane University.

The university sent 55 additional monkeys from the zoo – unwanted by any lab because they were members of the threatened species Macaca arctoides, also called the stump-tailed or bear macaque – to the Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio along with $40,000.

In a May 6, 1998 news release, the Director Kemnitz stated that the sanctuary met university expectations for housing the stumptails. Then Grad School Dean Virginia Hinshaw said: “The Wild Animal Orphanage is well-equipped to deal with small primate colonies of this nature. The sanctuary is a particularly appropriate choice because stumptailed macaques are a threatened species.”

Senior staff at the university-hosted Wisconsin National Primate Research Center – Director Joseph Kemnitz, head veterinarian Christine O'Rourke, and colony manager, Kirk Boehm – became members of the Wild Animal Orphanage’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

But by 2006, the university had quietly severed its relationship with the sanctuary.

Now, because of the chronic severe problems at the Wild Animals Orphanage, a USDA-created census of the remaining Vilas Zoo monkeys has become available.

“In light of the nature of the repeated problems found at the sanctuary, it is likely that many of the missing 33 Vilas monkeys died of malnutrition, lack of medical care, exposure, or some combination of those problems,” said Rick Bogle, Co-Director of the Madison-based Alliance for Animals, the organization responsible for originally exposing the university’s violations in 1997.

“The university made a big deal about caring for the monkeys after if couldn’t find a lab that wanted them. They seem to have turned their back on them. The monkeys deserve to be cared for; it is the university’s responsibility to make sure that funds are available to comfortably house and adequately feed the remaining animals. They owe it to the citizens who were told that the monkeys would be well cared for, and they owe it to the monkeys,” said Bogle.

Background files and info available at:


New UW Madison Primate Center Director

Read the UW news release about the new director, Jon E. Levine, here.

Here's an example of the scientific breakthroughs that put him head and shoulders above the rest of the applicants for the position:
Considerable variability exists in the behavior of males towards infants. Approximately 50% of naïve male mice did not attack young, but exhibited parental behavior on their initial exposure. Further investigations are necessary to determine what distinguishes the naïve males that express parental behaviors from those that do not. For example, it is possible that these spontaneously parental mice represent animals that were exposed to a different in utero environment than mice that ignored or attacked young. For the other 50% of naïve males, prior exposure to P[progesterone] in adulthood increases the proportion of males that attack pups rather than ignore them. It will also be informative to follow males for longer after the prolonged P exposure to see if these behaviors persist. If so, then it is possible that P exerts prolonged organizational effects on infant-directed aggression. Additional studies are necessary to determine the mechanism by which P exerts prolonged effects resulting in the increased expression of infant-directed aggression. Effects of progesterone on male-mediated infant-directed aggression. Schneider JS, Burgess C, Horton TH, Levine JE. Behav Brain Res. 2009
This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

What a cruel waste.

Monsters: Table of Contents

Dedicated to the victims, to those who have no voice.
Read, think, speak out.
Madison, Wisconsin. 2009. Published here in 2010.


Today’s Monsters’ Ancestors

Harry Harlow and Stephen Suomi

Learned Helplessness
Inescapable Electrical Shock

Monsters and Monkeys


The Little Angel of St. Louis

The Light of Day


Monsters are Everywhere

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Monsters: The University of Wisconsin, Madison

[D. Devaul. “Vilas Monkeys Not Forgotten” 2008. Taken on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Vilas monkeys being shipped to Tulane University to be tortured to death.]

In many of the preceding Monster essays, I’ve leaned heavily on denizens of UW Madison’s primate labs, the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and its older but smaller evil sister just across a narrow street, the Harlow primate lab, started in 1932.

UW Madison’s gang of monsters isn’t comprised of monsters more evil that those elsewhere; at some point, on some scale of monstrosity, rank order stops meaning very much. But nevertheless, UW Madison is a standout because of its historical significance and the relatively good documentation that has built up over time regarding its practices.

When it comes to hurting those most like us, the legacy of Harry Harlow stretches across the country. I’ve already mentioned Harlow students Stephen Suomi in Maryland, still reporting on the effects of maternal deprivation on monkeys, and Gene Sackett in Seattle writing about rearing monkeys in a way that keeps their hands out of their sight. But Harlow produced many PhDs who spread across the country like metastasizing cancer cells. Another one is William Mason at UC Davis. Mason has written about the differing effects to monkeys raised in either social isolation with only a hobbyhorse, or in semi-social isolation with a dog. Can you guess which monkeys turned out to be the most normal? He’s now burning out monkeys’ emotion centers in experiments similar to Kalin’s and Davidson’s. Harlow’s many students in turn trained their own students, and so the pestilence has spread.

The immediately past director of the Wisconsin Primate Center, Joseph Kemnitz, who I also mentioned earlier, has stated that his primate center operates just like all the other primate labs, so Wisconsin is an exemplar for the industry. He said this when the primate center got caught publicly in a series of violations and lies about monkeys it had at the local zoo.

I also lean on Wisconsin because I simply know more details about them than I do about the other labs around the country. I have personal experience with Wisconsin because I was involved in the events that followed the whistle blowing about the violations concerning the zoo that exposed the university to the searing light of day.

I also know from firsthand experience, the power the university exerts to shield its moneymaking-monsters from those stinging rays of daylight.

In 1997, I began learning details of publicly funded experiments on monkeys. The experiments, like many of those I’ve mentioned above, were so disturbing to me that I walked away from a job I loved and a home my wife and I built by hand, because not speaking out about what I had learned seemed to me to be no different than staying quiet during the Holocaust.

Once I had the facts and had my letters to my representatives in Congress dismissed out of hand, I got active. The first thing I did was to visit each of the then-seven NIH then-Regional Primate Research Centers and set up a camp outside their gate to protest and call attention to the atrocities occurring inside. I sat in front of each of the labs for nine days at a time, nonstop, beginning on a Saturday and through to the following Sunday. There were lots of protests and marches in every city I visited.

Coincidentally, it was around the time that I was sitting in front of the Harlow lab that internal documents got leaked to the local animal rights group, the Alliance for Animals. And, also coincidentally, a death in my wife’s family resulted in us moving to a small town just outside of Madison, so I became deeply involved in the resulting local news storm and public outrage. Before this though, I knew that the vivisectors were doing horrible things to the animals; I believed that they were honest scientists using research methods that I disagreed with. But the documents themselves, and events that unfolded after they were leaked, blasted the scales from my eyes. The dishonesty and calculated and misleading manipulations of public opinion that the university engaged in made me look more carefully at the claims being made by the industry at large. Suddenly, as if I had slipped on a pair of those truth-revealing glasses from They Live!, I could see the enterprise for what it was and could see what was shrouded behind the vivisectors’ white coats and their defenders’ business suits.

The Wisconsin Primate Center became fully operational in 1964. This included the operation of a primate display cum holding/quarantine facility at the Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo. In 1972, India halted the export of rhesus macaques after learning that some of them were being used in weapons testing rather than medical research. One of the last groups of monkeys to be exported ended up at UW-Madison and was housed as a group at the zoo facility which had became known locally as the Round House because of its circular design.

The university put together a second group of rhesus monkeys a few years later. The Round House eventually housed two groups of approximately 50 rhesus monkeys each and a similarly sized group of stumptail macaques. The building was divided into four pie-slice sections, one each for the rhesus monkeys, and two given over to the stumps. At the top center of the building was an observation room that looked down on each of the sections. Each section had a sloping floor made of small limestone slabs that stair-stepped up to just below the observation windows. Hidden behind the slopping walls were a lab and animal holding and sleeping rooms. At the bottom, mesh covered windows separated the monkeys from zoo patrons. The Round House was by far the perennial most popular attraction at the zoo.

The monkeys were watched and their social interactions recorded for many years. By 1997, they were the most studied and written about intact captive colonies of monkeys in the world.

In the late 1980s people began criticizing the zoo and university for using the popular display as a breeding farm. People watching the young monkeys playing with each other couldn’t help imagining what might be in store for them. There were protests and letters written to the newspapers, but these concerns were ignored. Then, over a period of months, graffiti critical of the zoo and its willingness to allow researchers to harvest monkeys appeared on and around the building. Apparently, the zoo officials were embarrassed enough that they asked the university to stop. This resulted in an agreement between the university and the zoo:

June 15, 1989

Dr. David Hall
Director, Vilas Park Zoo
702 S. Randall Ave.
Madison, WI 53715

Dear Dr. Hall:

I want to inform you of the Primate Center's policy regarding our monkeys that reside at the Vilas Park Zoo in a building we refer to as the “WRPRC Vilas Park Zoo Facility”. This building was constructed with funds provided by the federal government to the Primate Center. Thus, despite its somewhat ambiguous designation, the facility is owned and operated by us and, accordingly, the University of Wisconsin.

More than a few of the monkeys housed at this facility have lived their entire lives there, and animals are removed from their natal groups only to prevent overcrowding. The groups have been established for the principal purpose of studying social organization and social dynamics in stable primate societies. Accordingly, on those infrequent occasions when animals are removed from a group, the removal is guided by procedures aimed at ensuring the least disruption of the group and at preserving social stability.

The research performed on troops housed at the zoo is purely observational in nature. As a matter of policy, no invasive physiological studies are carried out on these animals. In addition, the Center's policy regarding animals removed from these established groups ensures that they will not be used in studies at our facility involving invasive experimental procedures. Such animals will be assigned to the Center's non-experimental breeding colony, where they are exempt from experimental use.

This policy on the uses of monkeys at the WRPRC Vilas Park Zoo facility has the endorsement of my administrative council as well as the staff veterinarians and animal care supervisors responsible for the care and humane use of all Center animals. As evidence of this, their signatures are also affixed.

Let me take this opportunity to point out that the Center has long taken a leadership role in the humane treatment of research animals. Our housing meets or exceeds all applicable standards. Our 12-person animal care staff has an average length of nearly 20 years of dedicated service to the Center and its animals. In addition, our chief veterinarian is one of just a handful of veterinarians in the state to be certified as a Diplomat of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, and our assistant veterinarian has developed a highly regarded program of pairing caged monkeys to enhance their psychological well-being.

Yours Truly,

Robert W. Goy, Director

Administrative Council

William E. Bridson
Associate Director

Robert K. Watson,
Assistant Director

Animal Care Unit

Wallace D. House
Chief Veterinarian

Viktor Reinhardt
Assistant Veterinarian

Stephen G. Eisele
Breeding Supervisor

Milford Urben
Vilas Park Zoo Facility Supervisor
This agreement was one of four written statements over a period of years reiterating the new policy and promising that any monkeys taken from the zoo would be exempt from “invasive experimental procedures” or other “experimental use.”

But in 1997, internal documents were leaked to the Alliance for Animals that demonstrated unequivocally that only months after the above letter was signed, monkeys taken from the zoo were again being experimented on in the university labs and were being sold for invasive and deadly experiments to other labs around the country.

Almost immediately after the leaks were made public, the NIH announced that no federal money would any longer be allowed for the monkeys’ care or for upkeep of the facility. The university quickly announced that it would get rid of the monkeys and began secretly trying to find labs around the country willing to take them.

After a year of public meetings and county government’s efforts to secure a safe home for the monkeys, monkeys that many community members, including the Governor’s wife, knew by name, the university succeeding in undermining all and every humane effort and shipped the rhesus monkeys to Tulane University, home of Wisconsin’s sister NIH facility, the Tulane National Primate Research Center. At Tulane, the monkeys were separated and eventually used in deadly and invasive experiments, yet a final violation of years of written promises.

Throughout the year leading up to this dark finale, at every turn the university worked to circumvent the county’s and citizens’ efforts. One of their more distasteful but enlightening maneuvers centered on the death of a young lab worker at Yerkes named Elizabeth R. Griffin that occurred at the same time that the university was trying to sweep this festering problem into some dark hole.

Beth, as she was usually referred to in the press, had the unfortunate experience of becoming one of the very few people ever to be infected and die from the Herpes B virus. According to the CDC:
B virus, or Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1, is an infectious agent that is commonly found among macaque monkeys, including rhesus macaques, pig-tailed macaques, and cynomolgus monkeys. Monkeys infected with this virus usually have no or mild symptoms. In humans, however, B virus infection can result in a fatal encephalomyelitis. B virus disease in humans is extremely rare, but often fatal -- an estimated 80% of untreated patients die of complications associated with the infection.(1)
Apparently, since the time the virus was first identified, in 1932, there have been 26 documented cases of B virus infection in humans and 16 of those people died as a result of the disease. The last one, as of 2009, was Beth Griffin, in 2002.

This has to be put in context in order to understand the rarity of the disease. Literally millions of rhesus monkeys, thought to be natural carriers of the virus, have been imported into the United States and have been handled by many thousands of lab workers. Many hundreds of thousands more have been bred and experimented on in the United States. In India, people have lived in close and intimate contact with rhesus monkeys for many centuries, maybe for millennia, without concern. Many people around the world keep rhesus monkeys as pets.

Beth was carrying a baby rhesus monkey in a cage when a drop of fluid -- saliva perhaps -- flew from the cage and into her eye. Her supervisors and the medical staff at Emory University, the home of Yerkes, were unconcerned since similar things must happen all the time given the large number of human/macaque contact hours every day. But they were incompetent or malfeasant as well when she began developing symptoms and didn’t treat her appropriately.

In any case, Beth died while the future of the Vilas monkeys was being debated in various Dane County government committee meetings. Upon her death from this very rare disease, University of Wisconsin officials told Dane County Supervisors that the zoo display was putting the public at imminent mortal risk. They told the county supervisors that an air-tight barrier would have to be constructed between the monkeys and viewing public. They waved Beth’s death as a talisman to frighten the public, exploiting their young colleague’s death in an attempt to dispose of what had become a very large embarrassment. Not only had they lied for years about their treatment of the monkeys at the zoo, but they also lied about the public’s risk.

I was at the committee meeting when Kemnitz and his crew first told county supervisors this new lie. Fortunately, I had also been out to the zoo to see the monkeys that very afternoon. A short time earlier, the university had stupidly elected to remove all the birth control implants from the monkeys, sending all the females into sudden estrus; the result was the pandemonium I witnessed.

While I watched, the university-employed caretaker was using a broom to try and separate the males who were fighting with each other. Blood was being liberally sprayed around the enclosure. Stress -- thought to be a trigger for the B virus becoming suddenly active and transmissible in a monkey -- was high throughout the colonies. Monkeys were screaming and running around trying to stay out of the big males’ melee.

And, with all these fluids flying, and Kemnitz’s dire warnings later that afternoon, the university caretaker was not wearing safety glasses or a mask. He was as bare faced as I was.

When I stood up and asked about this at the committee meeting immediately after the primate center staff had mongered their fear-inspiring warnings, you could see that both they and the county supervisors knew that the vivisectors had been caught in still another lie.

But the resources of the University of Wisconsin, like the resources of every government-supported institution, are as deep as the collective pockets of every taxpayer in the country. At the end of the day they can do as they please, essentially exempt from local concerns. And so, they sent the monkeys to Tulane, even as citizens were literally standing by, kept at a distance by police, with money in hand and a sanctuary willing to take them.

Never again have I been confused about what these people are.

Scandals over animal care have been common at UW Madison. I know personally, three people who were forced out of the primate labs because of concerns they voiced about the way the animals were being treated. Another person who was fired, but that I didn’t know, was a veterinarian named Jennifer Hess.

The story was brought to light in a February 20, 2004 news story in Madison’s weekly newspaper, Isthmus, following her settlement with the university for more than a quarter of a million dollars after she sued for a wrongful termination:
In her depositions, Hess said her suggestions for proper animal care were sometimes “met with derision.” Researchers pushed her to change veterinary records and “on more than one occasion” altered the records themselves. She also felt pressure to approve “inherently unethical” experimentation on ailing animals.

Once, when Hess wanted a monkey to regain some weight “before it went back into experiment,” she said a researcher snapped, "If you don't let me put her into experiment, I'm going to headcap another animal,” from the center's colony of 1,300 non-human primates. “Headcapping,” Hess explained, is a “nasty procedure” in which the monkey’s “skull is removed and the headcap is put in place of a skull and there’s a hole in the top of the head.”
Shortly after the Hess settlement was made public, another ex-employee of the Wisconsin Primate Center posted a message to an Isthmus comment page:
I worked as a work-study student for a Post Doc from 1995-1998. I worked with infant rhesus and mothers. We also had an offshoot study in geriatric females. It was horrible. Hellacious. I can't even begin to tell you what went on. Unsupervised undergrads losing their tempers and beating on monkeys while they were in a metal squeeze restraint. Monkeys with prolapsed uteruses waiting for hours for vet attention. Insane stereotypy that resulted in monkeys balding, chewing themselves and injuring others.

All the while, the PhDs had the most insanely petty battles going on, to the point where our research group was mocked and taunted in the hallways.
All of this is but a tiny glimpse into the shadows. I could write at length about Ei Terasawa’s violations of the Animal Welfare Act and her hideous push-pull brain perfusion experiments on elderly monkeys, or Chris Coe’s stress experiments on pregnant monkeys and its effect on the immune systems of their babies, or David Abbott’s androgenized female monkeys, treated in utero with testosterone and born with deformed reproductive systems and impaired endocrine systems, or the obscene financial waste and suffering of David Watkin’s simian immunodeficiency virus experiments, or Yoshihiro Kawaoka’s influenza experiments on ferrets and monkeys that could be putting the entire planet at risk… the list seems to go on and on.

In 2005 a young friend of mine decided to emulate my 1997 protest tour of the NIH primate centers. Coincidentally, when he was in Madison, sitting in front of the Harlow lab, I was traveling from Florida to California, and on the way I stopped off to sit with him. While there we discovered that a small parcel of land literally squeezed between the primate center and Harlow lab was privately owned. I had always assumed it was owned by the primate center and filled with old cages or bags of monkey chow.

When I learned it was privately owned, I immediately sought out the owner and asked him to sell it to me, which he agreed to do. He had been trying to sell it to the university for years he said, but they had never seriously discussed the property with him. The parcel was assessed at about $65,000, but the owner agreed, after some negotiations, to sell it for $675,000. Given its location, I considered it a bargain.

As I’ve already said, monsters don’t like the light of day. Daylight, or in this case public understanding is like a death ray to them. They believe that an informed citizenry would be at their door with pitchforks and torches. Why else destroy hundreds of videotapes, censor entire pages of documents, and keep the details of their actual work hidden?

When I learned of this property, and found a way to finance it, I envisioned it being a lens for public education. Kemnitz claims that all the primate labs operate in the same way, so where better to build a primate research public education center than between the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and the Harry Harlow Primate Psychology Laboratory? But I shouldn’t have been so hopeful.

When I learned of the property and figured out a way to pay for it, I contacted a realtor acquaintance in Madison and explained what I needed. I told her that I needed a very good real estate attorney who would draw up a bulletproof contract. I had no illusions about the university trying to quash the deal. I was referred to a prestigious firm in Madison, right across the street from the Capitol Building, Murphy Desmond S.C. On their website they say:
When you seek legal advice, choose lawyers who are dedicated to legal excellence, integrity, and our community. In matters involving business law, real estate, estate planning or other areas, Murphy Desmond S.C. are committed to exceeding your expectations.

I began speaking with attorney Vernon J. Jesse who is described on their website as a “shareholder of Murphy Desmond S.C., Vern has substantial expertise representing clients on a wide variety of real estate transactions including purchase and sale of real estate…”


I explained to Verne that I needed him to draw up an option contract, and that once the university learned what I was up to, that they would do everything in their power to block my efforts. No problem, he was an expert in the area of real estate contract law, and since I was buying a house and moving to Madison to work on the project, wouldn’t I like him to also review the contract for my new house as well. Thanks, but no thanks, I told him; I would trust the realtor I was working with.

So, Verne drew up the contract, and eventually turned the project over to one of his associates at Murphy Desmond, Dean Stange who has since become a partner in a different law firm, Michael Best and Friedrich LLP. At least Stange doesn’t claim to have any expertise in real estate transactions on his new web page.

When the university learned that I was planning on moving in next door to the primate labs and shining a big bright public spotlight on the industry, they freaked out and offered the property’s owner a cool $1,000,000 for the parcel that they had no prior interest in. And he took their offer, and reneged on his negotiated, notarized, and duly recorded contract with us.

Subsequently, we went through a courtroom trial, which we won, a reconsideration motion, which we won, and then an appeal to the Appellate Court which we lost, and a denial to hear our appeal by the State Supreme Court, to finally be told that the contract drawn up by Murphy Desmond was invalid. An attorney friend of mine who I spoke with during the four-year-long, $200,000 legal ordeal, told me, when she heard the details of the case that the error Verne made was something that is learned in Contracts 101. So we lost the property, and the monsters at the University of Wisconsin breathed a sigh of relief. They had avoided the death ray of public understanding, the light of day, once again.

So that’s why I write with some knowledge of the practices of vivisectors at Wisconsin and why I know a little about the history of their monkey labs. I had intended to use Wisconsin as a lens for looking at the entire industry. Human beings and innocent victims lose to the monsters once again.

(1) Center For Disease Control. National Center for Infectious Diseases. B Virus (Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1) Infection. Updated December 18, 2007.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monsters: Monsters are Everywhere

[Adapted from a screen shot of They Live! 1988. Directed by John Carpenter.]

If we consider the problem of monsters as a whole, its size is gargantuan. To begin to understand the problem, we can identify the places and circumstances that attract them. One thing they look for is the shield of authority, so it makes sense to look for them in government. And there are places in government where they flourish.

CIA interrogators, prison guards, county and state mental institution doctors and nurses, all of these professions have a disproportional incidence of employees abusing the people under their control. The circumstances have common elements. They are out of the public eye; the people being abused have absolutely no recourse; authority figures tacitly or overtly condone the abuse; and most importantly, the people being abused are deemed of low status, powerless, and deserving and personally responsible for the ills visited upon them.

Law enforcement is a place where monsters can be found without too much trouble as well. You don’t have to watch many episodes of COPS to get an idea of what passes as normal and accepted police behavior, or watch Jail to begin to wonder just what sort of being is attracted to such a job. You can’t watch the many available videos of groups of police officers surrounding and striking with their clubs, kicking, pepper spraying, and tasering people, without beginning to understand that this is a profession that attracts monsters and people who can’t do much more than follow orders or implied orders, people whom Milgrim called “moral imbeciles.” And it isn’t a coincidence that most such cases involve minorities as victims—poor, sometimes alien, usually non-Caucasians.

So, if blacks, Mexicans, poor people, the recently arrested, the mentally ill, and assumed mentally ill, the elderly, the indigent, and prisoners are treated so very poorly, so very cruelly, so often, it isn’t difficult to begin imaging what’s being done to animals.

As far as I can separate them, there are three general groups who don’t care about monstrous behavior to animals. They all start with the claim that animals don’t matter as much as humans. (Humans are animals of course, but unlike those relying on this artificial human/animal distinction to shield their cruelty, I use it here as a rhetorical convenience, as it is commonly used in general parlance.)

One group, the overwhelming majority of human society, barely has an opinion about anything. These are the people who question almost nothing that they do. They do the things they do because television tells them to, sales displays tell them to, Rush Limbaugh and radio ads tell them to, magazine ads tell them to, sitcoms and dramas tell them to, their friends at work tell them to. When you ask them why they eat animals, or why they do anything, they look at you blankly. They can’t really hear you. The reasons they do the things they do are so long ingrained, so repeatedly reinforced, so encouraged, that you might as well have asked them why they just inhaled. They don’t even know that they did.

The second group has an opinion, but it is based on hearsay; they have little time or interest in seeking out primary documents and information and knitting together a reasoned, fact-based position on much at all. These are the people who will say, “Well, I heard…” or “I read in the paper that…” or “the Bible says…”. These are the people who, given an opportunity, might be swayed by rational argument, by a demonstration of the facts, by being asked to formulate a reasoned defensible position. This is a small group.

The third group is reasonably well informed, but it is filled by people simply don’t care about others or else, actually enjoy watching them squirm. These are the monsters.

It’s pretty typical to hear someone from the first or second group say something like animals don’t feel things like we do, or animals do the things they do because of instinct. And in a way, a belief like that, though wrong, at least excuses their abuses and abusive life style decisions. But those from the third group have much different perspectives on what animals experience.
The behavioral repertoire of nonhuman primates is highly evolved and includes advanced problem-solving capabilities, complex social relationships… Nonhuman primates are capable of advanced behaviors that share important and fundamental parallels with humans. These parallels include highly developed cognitive abilities and binding social relationships.(1)
Once, when I was debating Paul Kaufman on the radio, I asked him just how similar to us an animal would have to be before doing the things he does to them should be seen as criminal as they would if he was doing them to humans. Kaufman is a researcher at the University of Wisconsin. He replied that such questions were “above his pay grade.” Paul Kaufman ought to have an opinion on matters like this; he experiments on living monkeys’ eyes and has been doing so since the early to mid 1970s. In almost forty years he hasn’t wondered whether animals with highly evolved behaviors, advanced problem-solving capabilities, and complex social relationships should have their eyes mutilated and be subjected to much pain and suffering, or at least he claimed not to have thought about it.

Monsters like Davidson and Kalin might be more hideous than monsters like Kaufman, who says only that human and monkey eyes are similar, since they base their experiments on their belief that the mental experiences of the animals they torture are like our mental experiences. That’s a dark claim.

Once, when I was debating with Davidson on television he claimed that he didn’t "hurt" the monkeys he experimented on when I was so brash as to bring it up.
If I can just respond to that. First of all let me clarify the issue of hurt.

In the work that we, I’ve collaborated on in nonhuman primates, I think the word hurt is very misleading. The protocols that we use do not involve pain to the animals. In fact, the research that we do in humans, I would say, we are permitted to inflict more pain, if the protocol requires it, than we can in nonhuman primates.

And so, I think it is deeply misleading to use the term hurt.(2)
This is a case of either profound denial, or more likely, just him hoping to confuse the audience, or his attempt to scurry into a dark hole because the light has become too bright. Of course he hurts them. In the course of his research they undergo highly invasive brain surgery. Can you even imagine a brain surgeon telling you that it won’t hurt? And then he frightens them. And he starts with the most anxiety-filled young monkeys he can find. These are the sort of people in the third group, the Davidsons, the Kaufmans, the Seligmans, the Suomis, the Little Angels, but also, the ranchers, the dairymen, the circus people, the dog fighters, the pet breeders, the zoo operators, the whalers, the fishermen, the bull fighters, the chicken fighters, the people that throng to the animal fights, the fast food vendors encouraging everyone to eat more animals, the people who raise all the animals, who build the cages, who manufacture the food, who build the labs, who make the drugs, who weave the nets, who make the guns, the knives, the electrodes, the restraint chairs, and the people who defend them. There are monsters everywhere.

Maybe it’s wrong to call someone who peddles fried chicken a monster. But how like us does a chicken have to be, as far as being aware of the future, having desires, preferences, fears, and delights, before hurting him or her is a sin, is immoral, and should be considered a crime?

A tenth? A hundredth? A thousandth?

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that in 2008, more than one and half billion chickens were killed in the United States (1,503,267,000, not counting the many millions of male chicks who were either ground up alive or simply thrown away, give or take a few thousand.) And they were killed brutally. But maybe chickens aren’t enough like us to really matter even though it is clear that they anticipate the future and modify their behavior accordingly and have complex social relationships.(3)

What about sheep, goats, or pigs? Are pigs enough like us when it comes to caring about how they are treated, or disliking pain, or being curious, or brave, or anything else to make hurting them a lot like hurting each other? How like us need they be? A tenth? A hundredth? A thousandth?

In 2008, more than sixty-one million pigs were killed in hideous ways. Their lives leading up to slaughter were filled with fear and pain. According to the University of Arizona’s committee on animal research, “The intelligence of pigs should never be underestimated. Many behaviorists believe the pig to be smarter than the dog and pigs are, without doubt, the ‘Einsteins’ of the farm.”

In 2001, an undercover investigation of Seaboard Farms, Inc., North America’s third largest pork producer revealed that employees routinely threw, beat, kicked, slammed against concrete floors, and bludgeoned animals with metal gate rods and hammers. “Other pigs were left to die slow and agonizing deaths with severe injuries, illness, and lameness, often unable to reach food or water, without even a trace of veterinary care.” The farm manager pled guilty to three counts of felony animal cruelty. Only the farm manager’s guilty plea makes this case an exception; the suffering is routine.

What about cats and dogs? Is a dog enough like a human that hurting them should be considered a crime? How like us do they have to be? According to an article on animals’ minds in a 2008 issue of National Geographic, a six-year-old border collie named Betsy:
... can put names to objects faster than a great ape, and her vocabulary is at 340 words and counting. Her smarts showed up early: At ten weeks she would sit on command and was soon picking up on names of items and rushing to retrieve them—ball, rope, paper, box, keys, and dozens more. She now knows at least 15 people by name, and in scientific tests she's proved skilled at linking photographs with the objects they represent.(4)
According to the USDA, in 2007, just over seventy-two thousand dogs were experimented on. Unlike the mice, rats and monkeys used in vivisection laboratories, dogs tend to be used in only a few ways. The two main areas are toxicology and cardiology. In the toxicology experiments the dogs are typically not provided with any pain medicine. In the heart experiments, dogs commonly have electrodes surgically embedded in their hearts to allow the monsters to force their hearts to beat faster. This is called ventricular pacing or forced pacing. It is often used until a dog dies of heart failure.

A paper published in 2008 by monsters at Wake Forest University explains that:
A total of 18 healthy male mongrel dogs (32.2±5.3 kg) were instrumented. Ten animals were studied under normal control conditions and after volume loading. Ten animals were studied after HF [heart failure] was induced… Data were recorded with conscious, unsedated animals standing quietly in the sling after full recovery from surgical instrumentation… HF was induced by rapid ventricular pacing at 200 to 220 bpm for 4 weeks.(5)
A healthy dog who weighs about 32 kilograms or 70 pounds, has a heart rate of between 70 and 120 beats per minute. 200 to 220 beats per minute is a very rapid pace; imagine your heart beating faster than it ever has for weeks on end, being unable to move, with wires, probes, and tubes protruding from your body. What would Betsy be experiencing in a situation like this?

But if chickens, pigs, and dogs aren’t enough like us to make their pain and fear rise to the level of serious concern, what about the animals acknowledged by scientists to be most like us? How similar to us does another primate have to be, as far as being aware of the future, having desires, preferences, fears, and delights, before hurting him or her is a sin, is immoral, and should be considered a crime?

A tenth? A hundredth? A thousandth?

A couple years ago I was working at a chimpanzee sanctuary in Cameroon. At that time there were six orphan juveniles living in the “nursery.” Hunters had killed their mothers. The nursery was about half an acre of forest surrounded by an electric fence. A cabin-like building was divided into two parts, a nesting/sleeping room for the chimpanzees and a tiny bedroom/food prep room for a volunteer, where I slept. In the morning, I would get up and make cups of toddler cereal and formula for each of them. They would get up when they heard me stir and start hooting and clambering to have their door opened.

I’d step out into the yard and open their door. I’d quickly hand a cup to each of them and they’d settle down for a few moments. As they finished up, I had to be sure to retrieve the cups or else they’d be destroyed during the day’s very rough and tumble play.

After they finished and I put the cups away, I’d sit with them for a while. Babole would always climb all over me and urge me to play with him, which I did, of course. Most of the others would start playing tag with each other and climbing in the tangle of trees and vines, using them for trapezes and launch pads.

Moabi usually started his day by playing with himself. He would gather small pieces of wood, little sticks, a few stones, and pile them together. Then he would sit with his pile and move things into small groups, arranging and rearranging. This usually lasted for twenty or so minutes until one of the others would sneak up on him and disrupt the order he had created, and off they would tear after each other, sometimes using me as a sort of maypole to run around and over.

But what was Moabi doing? He seemed to me to be doing the same sort of thing that I did as a child, as other young boys I have known do. He was pretending. I don’t know what he was pretending, but his behavior wasn’t discernibly different from the very poor children I’ve know who have also turned sticks and stones into toys and have imagined them to be something much different than they are. Maybe each of the small objects was a chimpanzee in Moabi’s mind. It seems possible to me that they were.

I learned pretty fast that I needed to sit with my back to a wall or close to the fence to avoid being mauled from behind. Although the chimpanzees were young and smaller than adults, they were robust, strong, and energetic. Once, when I was sitting with my back to the fence, I inadvertently touched one of the wires and received an immediate and painful jolt of a few thousand volts. All the chimpanzees seemed to know immediately what had happened.

They rushed over and consoled me, hugging me and, for a moment anyway, suspended their mad-dash play to examine my back and cuddle against me. It was clear to me that they all knew what I had felt because it had happened to them too. They were empathizing and sympathizing with me.

Just how much like us does an animal need to be before hurting them should be considered as much of a crime as it would be if it was being done to us, or to one of our children?

There is a disease called RSV that I learned about a few years ago. According to WebMD:
Respiratory syncytial virus infection, usually called RSV, is a lot like a bad cold. It causes the same symptoms. And like a cold, it is very common and very contagious. Most children have had it at least once by age 2.
I learned about this disease when an animal care technician at a giant primate lab named Bioqual contacted me about the treatment of the animals used at the lab. One of her concerns had to do with the young chimpanzees being used in RSV experiments. A paper published in 2000 by monsters at Bioqual explained that in one experiment, they used 19 one-month-old infants. They infected them by “combined intranasal and intratracheal inoculation.” They wrote that: “Nasopharyngeal swab samples were collected daily for 10 days, and tracheal lavage samples were collected on days 2, 5, 6, 8, and 10.”

So how like us do they have to be? The genetic difference between chimpanzees and us is vanishing thin. This is what I wrote about them in a newsletter to Congress in about 2002:
Let This Be a Time of Equality in American History

Congress should cease funding all research on chimpanzees. Funds should be reallocated for their permanent retirement. Only such action can approximate justice. The chimpanzee issue challenges Congress to lead; it challenges our beliefs about equality.

Chimpanzees can read.

It’s true that they can’t read very well, and they’re not as gifted in language as we are, but their mental capabilities challenge our traditional belief that humans alone are capable of such feats.

Chimpanzees can speak with us in sign language.

Our own amazing language abilities have allowed us to bridge a seemingly uncrossable communication divide. But the discovery that we can communicate in our own language with another species should cause us to reconsider our tradition-based beliefs and the morality and behaviors they engender. Right now, we act as if chimpanzee lives matter, just not very much.

The federal government’s recent actions suggest that Congress believes that harming chimpanzees in research is worthy of taxpayer support.

The national policy on chimpanzees, such as it is, is confused. Passage of P.L. 106-551, the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act, allocated funds to retire "surplu"’ chimpanzees. No similar program has been suggested for any other species. The ethically important similarities between humans and chimpanzees are widely acknowledged. Passage of the law was supported by an acknowledgment from the National Institutes of Health that there may be too many chimpanzees in U.S. tax-supported laboratories.(1) But simultaneously, NIH is allocating more funds to support the chimpanzee experimentation program.(2)

The global research community has tacitly acknowledged that chimpanzees are so similar to humans that experiments using them can hardly be justified. In Europe, only six chimpanzees remain assigned to a single research project; the rest are being retired to sanctuaries. Research using them is banned in Great Britain and New Zealand. Here, the U.S. government owns or controls most of the approximately 1400 chimpanzees available for research. (This is a small number of animals. Compare this with the 50,000 monkeys, the 70,000 dogs, and the 20 to 30 million rats and mice used annually in the U.S. (4) Also of note, is the fact that the overwhelming majority of these chimpanzees have been, and are being, held simply in case a "need" for them arises. Throughout the world, the moral and ethical realities seem to be overtaking the claims regarding any "necessity" of using these animals.
How Many Chimpanzees Are Available to Researchers in the U.S.? (3)

University of Louisiana at Lafayette 368
Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research 250
National Institutes of Health (NIH)/Holloman Air Force Base 241
Emory University (Yerkes) 190
University of Texas 154
Primate Foundation of Arizona 76
Bioqual (Rockville, Maryland) 63
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 14
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 11

Total Available Chimpanzees 1367
A very few philosophers and scientists continue to argue that chimpanzees and other primates are so unlike us that certain harm to them is justified by any chance of benefit to us. But those arguments are convoluted or mean-spirited and reminiscent of the Southern intellectual defense of slavery. The more common view is that humans and chimpanzees are much alike.

National policy in this arena is crying for leadership from outside the vested economic concerns. Members of Congress are personally and particularly responsible for the nation’s continuing failure to address the important ethical questions raised by the complex minds within the animals being experimented on in the United States.

Chimpanzees live to be nearly as old as humans. They form long-lasting relationships with each other. They make and use tools, they teach their children how to use tools. They pass their simple cultures down from generation to generation. Chimpanzees are intensely emotional, as are all primates. They laugh, they hoot, they mourn.

One remarkable human gift is our ability to imagine justice based on compassion and inclusiveness. Our hearts have led us to claim equality for those unequal in many other ways. No matter how smart, how literate, how creative one might be, we extend the basic right of freedom from harm by another to all. We continue to break down the barriers built on prejudice. Only tradition and the bigotry of a few vested interests keep us from reaching across the barrier of species – a barrier to justice maintained only by greed and the pre-scientific myth of mankind’s metaphysical superiority to all else.

The mental and emotional similarity between chimpanzees and humans makes our continuing use and warehousing of these animals indefensible. It is time for a change. It is time for leadership.

Congress should cease funding all research on chimpanzees. Funds should be allocated for the permanent retirement of all chimpanzees.

Let this be the time of equality in American history. Let our children look back on today with the same relief and pride that we ourselves now feel when we look back on past inequities and see our moral progress reflected in our revulsion to those moments most obscene. Let this be the time when the United States Congress leads the way to basic legal protections for all those who can suffer, as we ourselves are wont to do.

It is possible.

(1) John Strandberg, Prepared Statement on H.R. 3514. National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Health and Environment of the Committee on Commerce. U.S. House of Representatives. May 18, 2000.
(2) University of Louisiana at Lafayette, “Expansion of NIH Chimpanzee Holding Facility,” (Grant 1C06RR016483-01); $1,975,176. (2002). And, “Establishment/Maintenance of Biomedical Research Colony (Grant 5U42RR015087-03); $843,593. (2002). University of Texas, “Establishment/Maintenance of Biomedical Research Colony, MD Anderson Cancer Center.” (Grant 1C06RR017724-01); $1,959,906 (2002). And, “Organized Research, Veterinary Science: Extramural Research Facilities Construction Projects.” (Grant 5U42RR015090-03); $5,155,254 (2002).
(3) No one knows with absolute certainty. The table represents the most currently available data drawn from official documents from NIH and the facilities named. Most of these animals are not being used in research.
(4) United States Department of Agriculture. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS. “Animal Welfare Report: Fiscal Year 2001. Report of the Secretary of Agriculture to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.” Appendix.
At every university and many of the colleges in the US, people with mental defects or delays are being allowed to do horrible things to animals. Police departments seem unable to weed out the monsters from their ranks. Government agencies attract people willing to do anything they are allowed to do. Monsters are everywhere.

It’s pretty clear that there is something wrong with such people. It’s not so much that they can’t or don’t understand their victims’ suffering; it’s that they don’t care, or worse, that they want their victims to suffer. It turns out that psychologists and medical doctors were involved in the torture of prisoners -- convicted of nothing -- in the interrogation program carried out by the US government in the years following September 11th. Presumably, psychologists have a deep understanding of people’s feelings. They hoped that the methods they devised would be horrible. Those who did these things were monsters.

Once you take notice of the problem it is hard not see it everywhere you look. It’s sort of like John Carpenter’s film They Live! in which the main character puts on a pair of special sunglasses and presto, he sees the world as it really is, a world dominated by alien monsters who appear as regular old humans when seen without the glasses. Subliminal messages are everywhere, embedded in all the normal signs and billboards, telling unsuspecting humans to obey and consume, only in this case the subliminal messages say: "Animals don’t matter." "Ignore obvious suffering." "Eat more animals." "Wear more animals' skins." "Animals are disposable."

(1) Burbacher TM, Grant KS. Methods for studying nonhuman primates in neurobehavioral toxicology and teratology. Review. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 2000.

(2) WISC-TV. “For The Record,” Hosted by Neil Heinen. Sunday, June 22, 2009.

(3) Abeyesinghe SM, Nicol CJ, Hartnell SJ, Wathes CM. Can domestic fowl, Gallus gallus domesticus, show self-control? Animal Behaviour. 2005.

(4) Virginia Morell. Minds of their Own: Animals are smarter than you think. National Geographic. March 2008.

(5) Masutani S, Little WC, Hasegawa H, Cheng HJ, Cheng CP. Restrictive left ventricular filling pattern does not result from increased left atrial pressure alone. Circulation. 2008.

Monsters: Pro-Test

This essay was previously published here on September 12, 2009.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Monsters: The Light of Day

[This is a combination of elements of two images. The monkey is from a photograph taken surreptitiously. This monkey was used by Steven Lisberger, a monster at the University of California San Francisco. Lisberger embeds electrical equipment in their brains and eyes, deprives them of water, keeps them in solitary confinement, chained by the neck, even while in a cage, and then repeatedly experiments on them while they are wide awake. In the original photo, it is clear that this monkey is completely psychically crushed. Lisberger had pictures of some of his experimental methods displayed in drawings on his website. When the public’s attention was called to them, he took them down. The picture of the woman is from an image published in a 1946 Life magazine exposé of mental hospitals in the United States that is reminiscent of the story told in the movie The Changling. The image of the woman was from a photograph taken at the Cleveland State Mental Hospital.]

Hidden from view, anything can be done to a prisoner.

It’s a truism that monsters don’t like the light of day. They tend to come out at night and to keep their secret pastimes hidden from public view. They don’t like public exposure, and who can blame them? A corollary to this is that they pretend they don’t have anything to hide. They can come across as plain Joes, as upright and moral. They often go to church and otherwise appear normal.

Consider the 2008 discovery in Austria of Josef Fritzl’s secret prison under his house. He had imprisoned his daughter for 24 years, locking her in the cellar when she was 18. He raped her repeatedly and kept three of the seven children from his forced incest locked underground with her. According to an article published by the BBC in March of 2009, “Neighbors and acquaintances initially expressed shock at the case and said that Fritzl had treated his grandchildren affectionately and appeared to be a good grandfather. Former colleagues described him as hard-working and polite.” And isn’t this always the way it goes?

Neighbors and acquaintances are always shocked to learn that the man or woman next door is a monster. Dennis Rader, the infamous “BTK” killer who bound, tortured, and killed people for almost two decades was a family man, a Cub Scout leader, and pastor in his church. One article noted that he “seemed too normal to be the serial killer next door.”

The 2008 drama Changeling provides us with interesting portraits of monsters. The movie looks at the details surrounding the “Wineville Chicken Coop Murders.” Between 1926 and 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott kidnapped, molested, and killed as many as 20 young boys. He tricked the boys into getting into his pickup truck, took them to a ranch and locked them in a pen until he chose to pull one out. In the movie, it is clear that the boys know what’s coming, just like an animal in a cage who witnesses what happens to other animals pulled from their cages.(1) Northcott is clearly a monster.

But he isn’t the only monster in the movie. Christine Collins (played by Angelina Jolie) lives in Los Angeles and goes to the police when her son goes missing (he was kidnapped by Northcott.) She keeps pressure on the police who make a big deal about finding him and turn his reunion with his mother into media event. But when he gets off the train, he isn’t Collins’s son, he is a different boy, hence the movie’s title. Collins of course tells them immediately that he isn’t her son, but they will have none of it. The police force and the mayor’s office are deeply corrupt. They have no interest in being embarrassed during an election year.

When Collins won’t stop complaining, and when people start listening, the police have her taken into “protective” custody and placed in a mental institution. The psychiatrist there threatens her with a variety of “treatments” to coerce her into “admitting” that she was wrong, the police were right, and that the boy is indeed her own son. Thankfully, she is rescued in the nick of time to save her from having her brain shocked into confused submission.

It turns out that many women in the institution are “Section 8s” – committed on the authority of the police alone – and are being held because they have angered someone politically connected. Many of them have been drugged and shocked so often that they are little more than zombies. Of course, even though they are a little frightening with their soiled gowns, drooling mouths, wild hair, and deranged expressions, they aren’t monsters. The doctors and the nurses who have tortured them into cowering compliance are the monsters. The police officers who knowingly sent sane women to a mental hospital for “treatment” are the monsters. And, isn’t it likely that when the doctors, nurses, and cops went home at night, and went to parties over the weekend that their friends and neighbors thought them to be nice normal people?

Once Collins and the other women disappeared behind the walls of the asylum, like the children in Fritzl’s dungeon, like the boys in Northcott’s chicken coop, no human was around to see what was going on. Monsters don’t generally like the light of day, or witnesses.

In labs around the United States, monsters commit their atrocities in secret, hidden from the light of day, hidden from the public’s eyes. Very few photographs exist; even fewer video recordings are available. The monsters claim that the public “wouldn’t understand” what it was seeing; but they are really afraid that the public would understand far too much.

In 2002, I read an article that had originally been published in Scientific American in 1993, and was republished in a special edition on the brain and emotions called The Hidden Mind. The article was “The Neurobiology of Fear,” written by University of Wisconsin researcher Ned H. Kalin, M.D., Hedberg Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and Director of the HealthEmotions Research Institute that he founded with Richard Davidson whom I wrote about in the essay on lojong. In the Scientific American article, Kalin explained that he had videotaped experiments during which he had frightened young monkeys.

I wrote to the university and requested a copy of these apparently public records—paid for by taxpayers. They ignored my request. Months later a friend of mine began requesting a copy and eventually the university claimed that the videos were not public records. A year or so later, an attorney started requesting a copy; this time, the university was more prompt and more detailed in its denial. Then, about a year later, a reporter who happened also to be the chair of a citizens group that consistently fights for media’s access to public records, requested a copy.

Apparently sensing the likely eventual court order to turn over copies of these videos, the university sent the reporter a letter saying that a year earlier the records had been destroyed, as soon after the last request for the tapes as was legal to do. Further, the university claimed that a year prior to that, there had been a steam leak in the room in which the videotapes had been stored. When asked whether the tapes had been damaged, the university’s legal staff said that they did not know and did not know whether any salvage of the records had been attempted.

Most astounding, was the number and breadth of records that they had chosen to destroy. As it turned out they chose to shred 628 videotapes and an unknown number of other records. The videotapes that were shredded spanned over fifteen years of experiments on monkeys by various researchers from the university and the Harry Harlow lab. The university, probably Kalin particularly, chose to keep this documentation out of the light of day.

It is difficult to miss the parallel with the 2009 revelation that the CIA destroyed 92 videotapes of its use of using water-boarding and other “enhanced techniques” during its years-long interrogations of suspected Islamic militants. The American Civil Liberties Union remarked that the “sheer number” of the tapes destroyed showed that this was “a deliberate and systematic attempt to hide these unlawful activities from the American people.” The monsters at the University of Wisconsin destroyed more than six times as many videotapes.

Monsters hide their activities for one and only one reason. They believe, right or wrong, that if the public learned the gruesome truth, they would be in very deep trouble. It’s a cliché from old movies that when the villagers learn the truth about what’s going on in the castle above the town, they march with torches, pitchforks, and pikes and sometimes set fire to it. This is true whether the monster is a vampire, a mummy, or a scientist like Dr. Frankenstein. This bit of B-horror plot formula wasn’t invented by a writer though. It springs from reality and has seeped into our collective consciousness, which might explain the terror experienced by vivisectors when a crowd of angry people with signs and bullhorns gather in front of their house.

As long ago as the 1840s, this was an already familiar risk. Claude Bernard wrote in the 1867:
Twenty-five years ago when I began my career in experimental physiology, I found myself in those difficulties that are reserved for experimenters…. As soon as an experimental physiologist was discovered, he was denounced; he was given over to the reproaches of his neighbors, and subjected to the annoyances of the police. At the beginning of my experimental studies, I ran into such difficulties many times.(2)
Once you begin looking into the dark recesses of society and recognizing the monsters hiding among us you begin to wonder where they all come from. Who made them? Were they born monsters or did some experience or series of experiences turn them into abominations? There is good evidence that supports the widely held belief that serial killers often have a history of torturing and killing animals. Often, apparently, they have parents who were themselves monsters. This makes sense given Harlow’s “monster mothers” and Maestripieri’s child-abusing monkey mothers who go on to raise more child-abusing mothers.

The backgrounds of most vivisectors remain hidden, unsurprisingly perhaps if they were abused or neglected as children or tortured animals. Those aren’t the kinds of things one tells about. Coincidentally, the two whose childhoods I know a tiny bit about are both ex-directors of the University of Wisconsin Primate Center. One is Harry Harlow, who we can get a glimmer or two about from Deborah Blum’s biography, Love at Goon Park, Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection (2002). The other is John Hearn, who told stories about his boyhood to a graduate student with whom he was having an illicit affair.

Blum writes: “[Harlow’s] own research would lead him to realize, many years later, how much he had felt like an afterthought and how much he had minded.” Because his brother was chronically ill, his mother had little time for him. “His mother was there, near the home, physically—just not quite all there emotionally for a younger brother.” And then, she quotes Harlow, “I have no memory of partial maternal separation, but I may have lost some percentage time of maternal affection, and this deprivation may have resulted in consuming adolescent and adult loneliness.”

She continues a page later with observations from his high school yearbook:
In the 1923 yearbook, the year of his graduation, his senior picture shows an unsmiling boy. He has downcast eyes, a shadow of dark lashes about them, smooth dark hair, lips slightly turned down at the corners. In the same yearbook, students are asked what they wish to be when they grow up. The dreams are mostly small ones, happy ones. One wants to be a teacher, others want to be pretty, lovable, a farmer, a musician, a farmer, a singer, a farmer. [Harry’s] wish? At the age of seventeen, he wanted to be “famous.” He made a prediction, though, for his more probable outcome: He would simply end up insane.
That’s not a lot to go on, but it doesn’t sound like he was a happy child. Knowing what he became, we have to wonder when he first began hurting those weaker than himself. Was he imagining them to be the brother who took all his mother’s attention? Was he trying to get even by locking them away without love? Did he torture animals before going to college?

John Hearn was the director of the primate center from 1989 to about 1997. The official date of his departure is a little iffy because he left in the dark of the night, in a manner of speaking, after his abusive affair and associated misuse of public funds became public knowledge—there’s that light of day again, this time making a monster scurry into hiding.

One of the stories he told his lover was that as a boy he would capture birds, shove firecrackers in their cloaca, or vent, light the fuse, and release them. It was great fun watching them explode in the air. Apparently, in the case of Hearn, he was a monster even when young.

I wish there was data on the background of vivisectors, but there isn’t much. One more bit of trivia has to do with the most recent past-director of the Wisconsin Primate Center. Joe Kemnitz is rumored to have been a very chubby kid. He might have been made fun of because of it. His main area of research is caloric restriction. He makes monkeys go through a lifetime of chronic hunger. Who is he trying to get back at?

Like their work, this information isn’t something that they want talked about. They want to keep it under wraps, in the dark, hidden away. There are a number of examples of alcoholism and domestic problems among the monsters, but without data (and this is data unlikely to ever be available), whether or not this is at a higher rate than such problems occur in the general public must remain speculative.

Just over a century ago, vivisectors weren’t as secretive as they are today, although public concerns could, even then, cause them to hide, as we saw in Claude Bernard’s case. They conducted many demonstrations in public, entertaining crowds with animals’ screams and living entrails. Something similar endures in Spain’s bullfighting spectacles. Even a few years ago, vivisectors were less secretive than they are today. Their increasingly manic aversion to sunlight seems to be a defensive response to intensifying public concern and knowledge of what's going on behind closed laboratory doors.

(1) “an animal in a cage who witnesses what happens to other animals…” This isn’t a figure of speech or just rhetoric. Researchers found that:
Animals housed individually showed small, but statistically significant, increases in heart rate when in the room in which other rats were decapitated. In fact, they showed greater changes in HR [heart rate] to room entry by research staff than to witnessing the decapitation procedure. Sharp J, Zammit T, Azar T, Lawson D. Are "by-stander" female Sprague-Dawley rats affected by experimental procedures? Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science. 2003.
(2) Claude Bernard. Rapport sur la physiologie générale (1866). Translated in John Vyvyan. In Pity and in Anger: A Study of the Use of Animals in Science. Marblehead: Micah Publications, 1988.