Britches (monkey) - Reaction


PETA released a film called Britches that included footage from the burglary and the ALF's treatment of the monkey afterwards. The film prompted criticism of the experiments from other scientists and the American Council of the Blind, with Dr. Grant Mack, president of the Council, calling it "one of the most repugnant and ill-conceived boondoggles that I've heard about for a long time."

A UCR spokesman said allegations of animal mistreatment were "absolutely false," and that there would be long-term damage to some of the research projects. Researchers alleged that activists had applied black paint or mascara to the monkey's eyelids to make the sutures look larger than they were, and that damage reported by an ALF veterinarian to the eyelids had been caused by the veterinarian himself. The researchers also said that the Trisensor Aid had been removed and reattached by the ALF.

The burglary prompted the head of the National Institutes of Health to say that thefts of laboratory animals by animal rights groups could be considered acts of terrorism, and may require enactment of federal laws. Sally Sperling, a psychologist working in the lab that was burgled, told the American Psychological Association's Monitor on Psychology: "I can't describe in detail how looked when I first saw it after the crime—the images are etched into my mind with acid ... My lab was my haven and refuge for eighteen years. Even when my experiment wasn't going well or the equipment was acting up, I wanted to be in my lab and missed it badly when I wasn't there. Now, I barely can make myself open the door."

As a result of the ensuing publicity, eight of the 17 studies interrupted by the burglary were not restarted, and the university stopped allowing infant monkeys' eyes to be sewn shut, according to reports filed by the university with the government. The NIH conducted an eight-month investigation into the animal care program at UC-Riverside and concluded it was an "appropriate" program, and that no corrective action was necessary. A primatologist arranged for the monkey to be socialized by a number of handlers. When he was five months old, he was flown to a sanctuary in Mexico, where he was given to an elderly female macaque who had already raised several orphans.

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    The excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction.
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