SAEN LogoNameless - Essays From SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

By Michael Budkie

The stories I am left with are usually incomplete. I may not have a beginning, or at least no real substance of one. The information may start with only a date of birth, leaving many other details missing. I read life stories with huge holes scrawled by careless biographers.

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He is called only #V000335, and he was born in 1999. He came to the University of California, San Francisco, from a supplier called Valley Biosystems. We know nothing else of his early life. He was fitted with a collar in April of 2006, at seven years of age. In March of 2007, at the beginning of his involvement in experimentation, his weight was 9.65 kg (21.25 lbs). On July 23, 2007 his skull was cut open. In between he was weighed several times. He was killed on 4/25/08. To him death was probably a welcome relief from a life locked away in a barren cage, ending the misery that his life had become.

His record contains several descriptions of cleaning of wound margins during December of 2007. The wounds being cleaned are the openings which had been cut in his skull. The margins of the wounds are cleaned and treated with silver nitrate -- a chemical which burns and is often used to stop superficial bleeding. However, in his case it is used to stop bleeding on skin margins around the “implant(s)” which cover the holes in his skull. In January of 2008, he begins to receive daily pain relievers to control the pain he experiences from the use of silver nitrate. These cleanings also discuss the use of antibiotics, so he must have an infection. One of these notations also mentions that there is no “malodor” in his room, as though this was a surprise.

On 1/29/08 his caretaker notes a “slight odor around skin margin.” On 1/31/08 he is evaluated by a veterinarian because he is not eating, has lost weight and has “malodor.” His weight is recorded on the next day during diagnosis -- 7.9 kg (17.4 lbs). He is said to have “Chronic recurrent implant infection, weight loss, inappetence, malodorous exudate at margins & w/i (within) chamber.” His infection has seriously advanced to the point where a stinking liquid is flowing out of his head. He is also described as having a “deep malodorous cavitation with necrotic tissue visible.”

Silver nitrate is continuously used to “control” granulation tissue. In other words, His body is trying desperately to heal itself, to close the wounds on his head, but one part of his “treatment’ has the purpose of keeping the holes open, so the experiment can continue. In addition to the silver nitrate, the area is also cleaned with a disinfectant and hydrogen peroxide. Antibiotics continue. Three days later he is described as “scratching around silver nitrate treated area & looks discomforted.” The next day he is reported for inappetence and for “head tucking.” He is clearly suffering.

On 2/11/08 his weight has declined to 7.7 kg (17 lbs). His appetite is still low and his infection continues. By 2/12/08 his temperature is 101.2. On 2/18 he is “picking at the scabs” around the implant, and he has vomited. On 2/19/08 he is “sitting on perch w/head hung low in from of ceramic heat lamp.” The same treatment continues. By 3/7/08 he has totally stopped eating the monkey biscuits that make up a substantial part of the diet of captive monkeys.

On 3/20/08 his weight has declined to 7.4 kg (16.3 lbs.) and the next day he is described as “Head down, picking implant margin, basically no change in condition.” He is sick, and he is denied the one thing which would allow him to heal. The “chambers” are not removed from his skull.

On 4/3/08 he is given a physical exam. He is described “poor appetite, poor body condition, moderately poor skin turgor . . . markedly reduced range of motion of jaw & potential fibrosis due to inflammatory disorder or infection. . . . Fetid odor obvious w/moderate purulent discharge & non-vital tissues around implant margins.” The infection around the implant in his head has progressed to the point that the tissue around the implant is dying. It has become difficult for him to eat due to stiffness of his jaw caused either by inflammation or by trauma.

On 4/18/08 he has one positive moment. He is described as “playing with enrichment box.” By 4/23/08 his weight has plunged to 6.8 kg (15 lbs), a decline of 30%. What would be what a 150 pound human would look like after losing 45 pounds – a walking skeleton.

On 4/25/08 he is killed, finally.

Unlike many others, this incident did not go unpunished. The United States Department of Agriculture cited the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), as violating the Animal Welfare Act for the way in which this monkey was treated. He should not have been allowed to suffer so long, and become so debilitated. The officials of UCSF not only disputed the citation, they requested that “inflammatory” words like “malodorous” be removed from the documentation.

They objected to the very words their own animal care staff had used to describe the condition of this unfortunate animal. We must wonder if their real motivation for these official conundrums was to prevent words like “malodorous” from becoming public knowledge.

Our senses generate powerful images and reactions. They place pictures in your mind, sensory images. However, vision is not the only sense that can generate an image. Smell can be just as powerful as sight. The words used in the records of this animal bring up many sensations – images and smells. “Fetid odor . . . malodorous exudate . . . deep malodorous cavitation with necrotic tissue.” “Poor body condition . . . head hung.”

Pictures run through my mind. I watch as a healthy monkey has holes cut into his head, and chambers attached. Now he is sick, depressed, losing weight. His head is so terribly infected that it oozes a rank, purulent liquid. Fetid, malodorous, decay. He has become skeletal. I feel as if I could vomit.

Life is a sacred thing that we do not have the power to replace. We do have the power to destroy it. Even worse, we have the ability to turn life into something so abhorrent that continuing it is nothing less than sadism.

A government report quotes a statement by the laboratory: “The University of California at San Francisco is committed to using laboratory animals in such a way as to minimize pain or discomfort.”.

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