The story of the Silver Spring Monkeys

Besides guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs and cats, monkeys are also widely used for animal-testing. I overheard the other day that there is even a monkey farm in Sabah where monkeys are bred to be used in animal-testing.  

I sometimes post news from PETA but it does not mean I fully support what PETA does. Just as with most big organisations, there are bound to be things they do that cannot please everyone. Some organisations even have skeletons in the cupboard which cannot see the light of day.  

So, news is just news. Posting news from any organisation does not mean I fully support everything that they do. I prefer to take the standpoint where no one organisation (as with people, too) is perfect. Can we take the good, learn from it and discard the bad?  Can we applaud them for the good that they do and yes, critique them for the bad (provided we can do better, that is).  

So, here’s news about how PETA started their fight against animal-testing 30 years ago: 
In the summer of 1981, one of PETA’s founders, a student named Alex Pacheco, set out to gain some experience in a laboratory and began working undercover at the Institute for Behavioral Research (IBR). IBR was a federally funded laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland, run by psychologist and animal experimenter Edward Taub, a man with no medical training. There, Pacheco found 17 monkeys living in tiny wire cages that were caked with years of accumulated feces. A rotting stench permeated the air of the cramped, dungeon-like room, and urine and rust encrusted every surface. The monkeys were subjected to debilitating surgeries in which their spinal nerves were severed, rendering one or more of their limbs useless. Through the use of electric shock, food deprivation, and other methods, the monkeys were forced to try to regain the use of their impaired limbs or go without food. In one experiment, monkeys were kept immobile in a dark chamber made out of a converted refrigerator and then repeatedly shocked until they finally used their disabled arm. The inside of the refrigerator was covered with blood. In another experiment, monkeys were strapped into a crude restraint chair—their waist, ankles, wrists, and neck held in place with packing tape—and pliers were latched as tightly as possible onto their  skin, including onto their testicles. The trauma of the monkeys’ imprisonment and treatment was so severe that many of them had ripped at their own flesh, and they had lost many of their fingers from catching them in the rusted, jagged cage bars. Workers often neglected to feed the monkeys, and the animals would desperately pick through the waste beneath their cages to find something to eat. PETA gathered meticulous log notes detailing what was happening inside IBR and secretly photographed the crippled monkeys and their horrendous living conditions. Then, after lining up expert witnesses and showing them around the laboratory at night, PETA took the evidence to the police—and an intense, decade-long battle for custody of the monkeys ensued. This groundbreaking investigation led to the nation’s first arrest and criminal conviction of an animal experimenter for cruelty to animals, the first confiscation of abused animals from a laboratory, and the first U.S. Supreme Court victory for animals used in experiments. It even led to landmark additions to the Animal Welfare Act—and unrelenting public scrutiny of the abuse that animals endure in experimentationPETA has scored many victories for animals in laboratories since the landmark Silver Spring monkeys case, but tragically, experiments like this still go on. You can help by asking your congressional representatives to divert public money from cruel animal experiments into promising, lifesaving, and relevant clinical and non-animal research.

Please take a look at the photos (yes, it will tear your heart out, but perhaps after looking at the pictures, you’d join me in encouraging people not to support products that have been tested on animals):  

Animal-testing is cruel, selfish and unnecessary. It is, in fact, a waste of money and resources because we are biologically different from animals and the results cannot be transferred to humans.  
I have studied the question of vivisection for thirty-five years and am convinced that experiments on living animals are leading medicine further and further from the real cure of the patient. I know of no instance of animal experiment that has been necessary for the advancement of medical science; still less do I know of any animal experiment that could conceivably be necessary to save human life.  – H. Fergie Woods, M.D.  

Consider the following facts taken from 

1. Penicillin kills cats and guinea pigs but has saved many human lives. 

2. Arsenic is not poisonous to rats, mice and sheep but is deadly to humans. 

3. Morphine is a sedative for humans but a stimulant for cats, goats and horses. 

4. Digitalis dangerously raises blood pressure in dogs but continues to save countless cardiac human patients by lowering heart rate. 

I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence. – Mahatma Gandhi. 

Animal experiments confuse the issues and their results will never have scientific precision. There is absolutely no connection between vivisection and human health. The general belief in the value of animal experimentation is the result of brainwashing that the public has been submitted to for a long time. Behind it are the pharmaceutical industries, which spend fortunes on publicity and finance the research institutes and the universities – Arie Brecher, M.D. 

I had bought two male chimps from a primate colony in Holland. They lived next to each other in separate cages for several months before I used one as a heart donor. When we put him to sleep in his cage in preparation for the operation, he chattered and cried incessantly. We attached no significance to this, but it must have made a great impression on his companion, for when removed the body to the operating room, the other chip wept bitterly and was inconsolable for days. The incident made a deep impression on me. I vowed never again to experiment with such sensitive creatures. – Christiaan Barnard, first surgeon to perform the heart transplant from human to human. 

Now, let’s get down to real practice and not just talk: 

1. Household products – support Amway (I’m not a member, but I buy and use their products to support their no animal-testing policy). Google for other companies, there are many. You can also get such products from the organic shops. Enzyme products are readily available these days. 

2. Medicine – As far as possible, I subscribe to Hippocrates’ “Let food by thy medicine”. Go natural, as far as possible. Go herbal (with informed knowledge). Some natural supplements are not tested on animals. 

3. Cosmetics – If you have to use, support companies like Body Shop, etc. Better still, don’t use. Grow old gracefully because that’s how it is supposed to be. You don’t need cosmetics to look pretty. Beauty comes from the heart. 

4. Soap – I use Orifera’s Coconut Soap. It is not tested on animals. It is also not expensive. 

5. Shampoo – I use Radiant or any enzyme product sold in the organic shops. They are all cheaper than the usual commercial shampoos which contain SLS. 

6. Toothpaste – I use Greenzhi toothpaste or any vegetarian toothpaste. There are many herbal ones that are not tested on animals. 

I am a minimalist. This is the stuff you’ll see in my bathroom.

Product check: 

Spare the monkeys, guinea pigs, dogs, cats and rabbits. They should not be made to suffer for humans’ selfishness.