Animal Aid

Monkey madness at Oxbridge

Posted 17 November 2004
Caged monkey

University researchers to receive cruelty awards

Animal Aid's Mad Science Awards - handed out annually for pointless and grotesque scientific research - will be presented this week to researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, for deliberately inflicting severe brain damage on primates.

The stated purpose of most of the Oxbridge 'award-winning' experiments - using tiny marmosets and rhesus macaques - was to seek answers to human neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Also 'lauded' are vision and sleep experiments and another aimed at understanding more about how food 'feels' to the brain.

A growing number of scientists contend that such monkey tests have no application to human medicine.

Specially-prepared Mad Science Award Certificates will be taken to the Universities by boggle-eyed, blood-splattered 'mad scientists', accompanied by a giant caged 'monkey', on Wednesday 17th November (Cambridge) and Friday 19th November (Oxford).

Oxford protest

Said Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

"Apart from the physical trauma, the monkeys also experience psychological stress and fear through being kept in isolation for the duration of the experiment. It is scandalous that the government stubbornly refuses to commission an independent scientific evaluation of the usefulness of such animal experiments. This is despite the fact that a September 2004 independent survey commissioned by Europeans For Medical Advancement has revealed that 83% of GPs would welcome such an inquiry."

This year's Mad Science winners were responsible for:

  • Removing parts of the brains of two rhesus monkeys, incarcerating them for ten years and then using them in further research.

  • Inducing symptoms of Parkinson's disease in two rhesus monkeys. Although totally incapacitated, the animals were kept alive for a further 10 days as part of the study.

  • Obliterating the main blood supply to the brain to produce an experimental model of stroke in marmosets. Despite the animals' evident suffering, the research project was registered in government statistics as being of only 'moderate' severity.

Click here for the 2004 Mad Science Awards >>

For details against our campaign against the proposed Cambridge primate research centre click here.

Notes to Editors

  • CAMBRIDGE PHOTOCALL
    Location: Entrance to Department of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge University, Downing Street, Cambridge
    Date: Wednesday 17 November
    Time: 12 noon

  • OXFORD PHOTOCALL
    Location: Main Entrance, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford
    Date: Friday 19 November
    Time: 12 noon

  • The UK already carries out many more experiments on primates than does any other EU member state (4,799 in 2003). These are conducted not only on marmoset monkeys - mostly bred in-house at academic research institutions - but also on macaques, imported from countries as far away as China. The macaques are mostly wild-caught and suffer the additional trauma of long distance transport by land, air and sea. They also experience severe psychological stress from being housed in totally unfamiliar surroundings and separated from their family groups.

  • Monkey in experiment
  • Trusting the results of animal experiments has led to serious consequences for human health. Drugs for asthma, gastric ulcers, arthritis and heart disease - all tested on primates - have had to be withdrawn after causing serious, sometimes fatal reactions in humans. The first AIDS vaccine, Aidsvax, was a 'success' when trialed on primates, but it failed to protect the 8,000 high-risk human volunteers from the HIV virus.

  • The brains of marmoset and macaque monkeys are many times smaller than a human brain and their speech and thought patterns are vastly different from our own, yet they are frequently used to study human neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's.

  • In 2002, MEPs voted in favour of a complete review of the use of all primates in experiments. They singled out Britain, and Cambridge University in particular, for inadequate enforcement of existing regulations. In 2003, an Early Day Motion calling for a complete ban on primate experiments was signed by 131 MPs.

  • For more information contact André Menache or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.

  • We can supply images in jpeg format.

  • We have an ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.

  • For further background see the Mad Science index.

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