The Liberation Of Britches
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Uploaded on Oct 22, 2009
"What type of mind could have conceived of this and, perhaps more importantly, could have carried it out?"
Britches, a Stump-tailed Macaque monkey born into a breeding colony at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) in March 1985, was removed from his mother at birth, had his eyelids sewn shut, and had an electronic sonar device attached to his head as part of a 3-year sensory-deprivation study involving 24 infant monkeys.
Acting on a tip from a student, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) removed Britches from the UCR laboratory on April 20, 1985, when he was 5 weeks old — along with 467 mice, cats, opossums, pigeons, rabbits, and rats — during a raid upon the laboratory. The ALF took footage of the raid and of Britches' condition when they found him, passing it anonymously to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who used it as the basis of their film, Britches. A similar film was released by PETA a year earlier titled Unnecessary Fuss.
According to Science Magazine reporting on the Riverside raid, PETA was a "mouthpiece for the unidentified liberationists". As a result of the ensuing publicity, 8 of the 17 studies interrupted by the raid were not restarted, and the university stopped allowing baby monkeys' eyes to be sewn shut. The NIH conducted an 8-month long investigation of the animal care program at UC-Riverside and concluded it was an "appropriate animal care program" and that no corrective action was necessary.
A spokesman for the university criticised the ALF, saying that claims of animal mistreatment were "absolutely false" and that there would be long-term damage to some of the research projects, including those aimed at developing treatment for blind people. Researchers alleged that activists had applied black Mascara or paint to the monkey's eyelids to make the sutures look larger than they were, and that damage to the eyelids reported by pediatrician Bettina Flavioli on behalf of the ALF had, in fact, been caused by the pediatrician herself.
The Study: Conducted by PSYCHOlogist David H. Warren. And the reason for this experiment? To determine the effect of blindness on children.
According to PETA's president, based on papers found in the lab by the ALF, the UCR researchers wrote that performing this study by artificially blinding the monkeys was necessary because "sufficient numbers of blind human infants [to study] were not within driving distance" of Riverside, California, and because the experimenters did not wish to be inconvenienced by the normal household routines if forced to work with blind children living at home.
The Raid: The ALF was alerted to the laboratory's work by a student who had reported the Britches' situation to an animal protection group, Last Chance for Animals. An ALF contact volunteering there heard the complaint, and approached the student for more information.
On April 20, 1985, ALF activists broke into the laboratory and removed Britches along with 467 other animals, taking footage of the raid, which they handed anonymously to PETA. Activists found Britches alone in a cage clinging to a device covered in towelling that had two fake nipples attached, apparently intended to serve as a surrogate mother. Britches' eyes were bandaged and a sonar device was attached to his head, which emitted a high-pitched screech every few minutes. Britches was driven to Utah and examined by a retired pediatrician, Bettina Flavioli, who recorded her report on video.
Medical Report: Dr. Ned Buyukmihci, a doctor of veterinarian medicine, specializing in veterinary ophthalmology, and founder of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, examined Britches after he was removed from the lab. He stated that the sutures used were too large and that the monkey's eye pads were filthy. He said: "There is no possible justification for this sloppy, painful experiment."
Britches After The Raid: According to Ingrid Newkirk, Bettina Flavioli contacted a primatologist about Britches's future, and was referred to a sanctuary in Mexico that would take him. If not raised with other monkeys, the primatologist advised that Britches would grow to be aggressive and unmanageable. Following Flavioli's advice, the monkey was socialized by a number of handlers, to avoid his becoming too attached to any one of them. When he was five months old, Bettina Flavioli paid for the ALF to fly Britches to a sanctuary to be raised by a female macaque.
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Alex de Grassi
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