Animal Aid

MONKEY VIVISECTORS GET THIS YEAR'S MAD SCIENCE AWARDS

Posted 14 August 2001
Two monkeys

Animal Aid's Mad Science Awards (AAMSAs) - handed out each August for pointless and grotesque scientific research - will this year be presented to 10 research teams conducting experiments on monkeys. Several of the projects were funded by the taxpayer and were conducted at universities or other government-supported laboratories.

In projects lasting months and even years, groups of macaques and marmosets were deliberately brain-damaged with chemicals or by surgical mutilation and then set a battery of tests. These demanded that the animals search for hidden food, operate a joystick, or respond over and over to images on a computer screen. For some of the tests, monkeys' arms were immobilised with sticking plaster and their feet bound in sticky postal labels.

Most of the experiments ended with the monkeys being killed and various body parts analysed. But prior to death, according to the researchers' own published papers, the animals suffered symptoms which included seizures, vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors and uncontrollable body movements.

Monkeys are supposed to be the most protected of all animals used in UK labs.

The experiments were mostly said to be aimed at assessing the effects of the brain damage on the animals' vision, memory, learning ability, or control of movement. Several were merely curiosity-driven, with no obvious, let alone immediate, benefit for human medicine.

Others purported to be aimed at researching strokes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or Huntington's Disease. In reality, such crude and artificial replication of complex and multifactorial conditions means that the monkey 'models' bear little relation to the real diseases in humans.

The 2001 Animal Aid Mad Science Awards also spotlight a horrifying xenotransplantation experiment conducted by the controversial commercial testing lab, Huntingdon Life Sciences. This involved switching kidneys from genetically modified pigs to macaque monkeys. Average survival time for the 14 monkeys, many of whom also had their spleens removed, was just 24 days. 'Adverse events' logged by the researchers included, vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia, and haemorrhage.

Said Animal Aid's scientific researcher Kathy Archibald:

"Everyone wants a better understanding of and treatment for serious brain and nerve disorders. But these experiments are bad science as well as being pitiless. There are many ways of conducting research in this area that are humane as well as effective. Monkeys are supposed to get maximum legal protection in the UK - legislation that is held up as a shining example to the rest of the world. These Mad Science Awards prove that such claims are a sham and that every year in British laboratories thousands of monkeys are suffering unimaginable and pointless torments."

The Award winning research teams are based in:

  • Cambridge
  • Edinburgh
  • London
  • Oxford

For the full Mad Science Awards 2001 report, click here.

Notes to Editors

  • More information from Andrew Tyler, Kathy Archibald, or Yvonne Taylor on 01732 364 546.
  • Award winners each receive a diploma featuring the special AAMSA motif of a laboratory beagle stabbed with a scalpel.
  • For details of winners from previous years see the Mad Science Awards Index.
  • A jpeg image from Animal Aid's Mad Science Awards report can be e-mailed to you.
  • We have an ISDN line for Broadcast-quality interviews.

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