Written by PETA
You probably know him from his roles in movies such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Traffic, 21 Grams, Sin City (my personal favorite), and many others. He's also won an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and a SAG award. Now actor Benicio del Toro is adding one more bullet point to his résumé: animal defender.
The Puerto Rican actor has penned a letter to the governor of Puerto Rico urging him to halt the construction plans for Bioculture's massive monkey-breeding facility. As you might remember, Bioculture—a company that supplies primates to laboratories—plans to capture monkeys from their homes in Mauritius, hold them captive in Puerto Rico, and then sell thousands of their babies for use in painful and deadly experiments around the world.
You can read Benicio's full letter here. To write your own respectful letter to the governor to ask him to stop Bioculture, please click here.
Written by Amanda Schinke
Back in March, we told you about the USDA's investigation at Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC). The investigation came about as a result of a PETA complaint exposing that a monkey had been operated on by mistake; that a sick, pregnant monkey had been denied veterinary care; and that other abuses had taken place. The USDA backed up our findings, citing ONPRC for violations of the Animal Welfare Act and issuing the facility a warning. And let's not forget what we found during our undercover investigation.
Well, it's been barely seven months, and ONPRC is in hot water again. According to a lawsuit filed by InVivo Therapeutics—one of the companies that hired ONPRC to torture experiment on monkeys—ONPRC so severely neglected seven monkeys whose spinal cords it had surgically severed that four of the monkeys had to be euthanized.
Of course, the lawsuit is a lose-lose for the monkeys. InVivo had paid ONPRC to paralyze the animals so that researchers could implant them with a device developed by InVivo in order to see if they would regain any movement. In the lawsuit, InVivo alleges that early in the research period, more than one third of the monkeys provided by ONPRC suffered illnesses or injuries such as bladder problems because ONPRC failed to provide the proper post-surgery care or a medical device necessary to keep their bodily systems functioning. InVivo also alleges that at least one monkey developed "a debilitating staph infection" as a result of bacteria at ONPRC.
The publicity surrounding the case has shined another spotlight on abuses at ONPRC as well as the inadequacy of the federal law that is supposed to protect animals in laboratories.
If you have a strong stomach, go to StopAnimalTests.com to find out more about the cruel, redundant, and archaic experiments conducted on primates at ONPRC, and then dash off a letter to the National Institutes of Health, urging it to stop funneling your tax dollars to ONPRC.
Written by Alisa Mullins
According to news reports out of Nepal, that country's forest minister, Dipak Bohara, has "imposed a ban on monkey breeding for export to the United States for biomedical research."
This could be an important first step toward ending the grotesque breeding-and-export trade in monkeys once and for all.
The next step is for the Nepali government to listen to the coalition of animal protection groups (including PETA India) that has been urging the government to rehabilitate the hundreds of monkeys at a breeding center in Lele and to pass a law that would halt all commercial wildlife breeding.
We hope Nepal's action also inspires officials in Puerto Rico to block plans by Bioculture to build a monkey-breeding facility there. But in case they're not paying attention to Nepali news—and, let's face it, many folks aren't—please be sure to add your voice to the growing chorus opposing the construction of Bioculture's facility.
Written by Jeff Mackey
Beach bums everywhere agree that Puerto Rico's beaches are heavenly, but the island will become hell on earth for thousands of monkeys if a massive primate-breeding facility is approved.
PETA is taking no time off in our efforts to shoot down the proposal by Bioculture, a company that breeds and sells monkeys to foreign laboratories, where they will suffer abusive handling, months of confinement in metal cages, and forced dosings of toxic chemicals (remember Covance, anyone?). The latest efforts include working to get our new billboard erected in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
There's more to come, so stay tuned.
Written by Karin Bennett
Sharp-eyed PETA intern Elijah spotted a couple of recent news stories that show (once again) how much we have in common with our primate cousins—monkeys, in this case.
First came word that cotton-top tamarin monkeys can "acquire an affixation rule that shares important properties with our inflectional morphology." Gotta love scientific jargon, huh? Put a bit more simply, they can recognize when a word doesn't have the suffix or prefix they expect to hear. So if you're striking up a conversation with a monkey, watch your language because you're not the only one who knows what "caging" and "killing" means.
Then we learned that rhesus monkeys use the same mechanism—"configural perception" (well, natch)—as humans do to recognize faces. Turns out that monkeys also experience the "Thatcher Effect," which, yes, is named after the former British prime minister. If you don't know what the Thatcher Effect is—I didn't—here's more about it. (If you don't know who Margaret Thatcher is, I can't help you.)
So let's see. Monkeys can recognize Margaret Thatcher upside down. They know prefixes and suffixes, can speak in sentences (and with accents), and can even do math. Heck, they have a stronger skill set than some people I've worked with—although not at PETA, of course. But they're definitely overqualified to be caged and tortured in laboratories at Columbia University or Covance. What really blows my mind is how experimenters can discover all of this and still torture and kill monkeys. Maybe we should be conducting tests on experimenters' empathy instead.
On the "even the little guy sometimes gets a break" front, we recently received news that nine monkeys had escaped from the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC). The monkeys apparently made a break for it when a laboratory worker left their outdoor cage unsecured (great idea—lab workers reading this please take note). Sadly, all the monkeys were eventually captured, but freedom tasted good while it lasted, didn't it, guys?
Perhaps those monkeys were reading The PETA Files? Just last month, we reported that ONPRC had been cited for three violations of the Animal Welfare Act and slapped with a formal warning from the USDA, which told ONPRC that if it didn't shape up, it could face civil or criminal penalties. This after PETA repeatedly brought to the USDA's attention abuses such as botched surgeries, the forced separation of infant monkeys from their mothers, and the deaths of monkeys who had been denied veterinary care. PETA also told the USDA about how monkeys at ONPRC were forced to eat food out of waste-filled trays, blasted with high-pressure hoses in their cages, and much more.
Even though we were rooting for the escaped monkeys to catch a freight train out of there forever, we have filed yet another complaint with the USDA. We pointed out that the USDA had told ONPRC that if it screwed up again, it was going to be in serious trouble. So, USDA, please stand by your word. ONPRC has been given more than enough opportunities to clean up its act, and it has failed. If only the 4,000 monkeys who are imprisoned at ONPRC could receive as many "second chances." There is nothing good in their future, we fear.
Written by Alisa Mullins
It's been awhile since we last mentioned the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC). But even though ONPRC hasn't been in our blog, it's been very much on our minds, and there are encouraging new developments to report.
For those of you who have hit-and-miss memories like mine, here's a quick recap: Our 2007 undercover investigation at ONPRC found that monkeys were tormented by laboratory staffers, forced to eat food out of waste-filled trays, denied medical care or pain relief, and driven mad by horrific laboratory conditions. Still, despite undeniable video evidence, the USDA somehow didn't see anything wrong at ONPRC.
At that point, ONPRC may have thought that it had won and that we would slink away. But, hey, this is PETA, after all, so think again, monkey abusers!
This past fall, we obtained new internal documents from ONPRC that detailed further abuse and neglect, so we submitted a new complaint to the USDA. In it, we outlined the following incidents:
Wow. Cold-hearted and inept—a deadly combination.
Based on our complaint, the USDA inspected ONPRC, and this time, it confirmed our allegations. So ONPRC was cited for three violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including causing monkeys trauma, stress, harm or discomfort and failing to adequately monitor and provide veterinary care to animals.
And the agency didn't stop there: In December, the USDA issued an "official warning" to ONPRC that it may face civil or criminal penalties if additional violations are found in the future.
It's a hopeful sign of progress, but we're hardly done with ONPRC. After all, these incidents are only a small part of the cruelty still being inflicted on the more than 4,000 primates there.
No, you're not experiencing déjà vu. This is the second blog in two days in which we've reported that primates have taken aim at humans—literally. In the latest instance, a monkey in Thailand—fed up with performing the thankless task of climbing coconut trees to retrieve fruit for his owner to sell—apparently launched a coconut at the man's head, killing him instantly. Did we mention that payback is hell?
Like so many animals who are exploited for profit, the monkey, whose name is Brother Kwan, was frequently denied rest and beaten if he refused to climb.
This story comes on the heels of a report last week about a chimpanzee in a Swedish Zoo who collects stockpiles of rocks and then chucks them at zoo visitors.
How much more proof do we need that primates are intelligent animals with the ability to reason, get mad, and fight back? Better watch your back, Castrol.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Four monkey-masked PETA members paid Yale a little visit yesterday in honor of National Primate Liberation Week.
As motorists passed underneath the banner-wielding monkeys, they were reminded that "Yale Murders Monkeys." Well, specifically, Yale imprisons monkeys in tiny cages, mutilates them, injects them with poison, forces drug addiction on them, and eventually kills the animals as part of the experiments—but "murders" pretty much covers it, don't you think?
That's right—the more than 160 primates who are locked up in Yale's laboratories are the subjects of many cruel experiments, several of them drug-related. Some of the more heinous abuses include injecting toxins into monkeys’ brains so that they can’t walk, move or eat, addicting the monkeys to PCP to induce schizophrenia (excuse me?) and addicting them to nicotine by giving them the equivalent of smoking 17 packs of cigarettes per day. Because, ya know, exposing a monkey to 17 packs' worth is really reflective of an average human smoker's habits. Right.
The vivisectors at Yale are even killing pregnant monkeys and removing their fetuses in order to cut out their brains. If this were happening anywhere else, it would be condemned as psychopathic, murderous behavior—but because it's done in the name of "science," we're expected to accept this.
Well, forgive me, but this isn't the kind of thing that we at PETA tend to accept—and neither, I think, would most reasonable people. These monkeys are being tortured and murdered at taxpayer expense, but who said the taxpayers approve?
If you don't approve, please write the National Institutes of Health and ask them to end their policy of funding animal experiments like these.
Charles River Laboratories has finally had to own up to killing 32 monkeys under their "care." The monkeys were baked alive when a thermostat malfunctioned; no alarm system was in place to alert staff to save the monkeys. Nobody even knew about the deaths until the following morning.
Charles River's announcement follows a string of contact with PETA from a whistleblower claiming to be a Charles River employee, who was concerned about what appeared to be gross negligence. We immediately followed up with a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (the body charged with enforcing the minimal standards of the Animal Welfare Act), which subsequently opened an inquiry into the lab.
"This is a terrible and unfortunate tragedy," the company said in a statement released to the media. The monkeys were slated to be used in preclinical drug experiments, so Charles River's concern is quite curious. The deaths were written off as the result of "several human errors"—unlike the frequent and intentional monkey murders that preclinical testing laboratories voluntarily participate in.
This accident is only one disgusting incident among many for Charles River's abysmal record. They were cited for 22 violations of the ever-so-minimal standards of the pitifully limited Animal Welfare Act in 2005 alone, and they netted 20 violations (as reported to federal officials) in 2006 and 2007.
Stay tuned to this spot. More's afoot on this front.
Written by Sean Conner
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.