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His Name Is Ford

His name is Ford. His early life is a mystery, we know nothing more than his year of birth, 1995, and that he arrived at the University of Michigan in 1997, coming from Tulane University. The next thing we know of Ford is that he had a TB test in October of 2007. At this time he has an elevated temperature due to excessive activity, and he also has a heart murmur.

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In March of 2008, Fordís left leg became caught in his cage and he was trapped overnight. The fear, pain, and frustration he experienced were overwhelming. His helplessness, pain and terror at more severe confinement caused him to lash out. He couldnít hurt the cage. He couldnít free his left leg. Driven almost out of his mind he attacked his own right leg, causing severe lacerations that had to be repaired surgically. He had a 5 inch scar.

His leg injuries were severe enough that they were treated until the morning of May 29, 2008. By the afternoon of May 29th, his right leg had become caught in the floor of his cage. His foot was freed and x-rays were taken of his legs to make sure no other injuries had taken place.

By the next morning, his right leg was again caught in the cage floor, and now his left leg was self-mutilated. His injuries were treated and he was recovered.

However, the laboratory staff decided that due to his history of self-mutilation and other issues, he should be killed. On June 2, 2008 he was overdosed with pentobarbital.

We donít know much about Fordís life, only that he suffered extreme terror, pain and frustration. He was so overwhelmed with his helplessness and inability to move that he lashed out at his own body. We also know that despite substantial veterinary efforts to treat his wounds, he was ultimately considered to be disposable. Since he didnít fit into the scheme of things at the University of Michigan, he became a liability, and was expendable, like any other malfunctioning piece of laboratory equipment.

Though his case was extreme, he exemplifies virtually every primate in every laboratory. He was viewed only in terms of his value as a research subject. He had no more importance than a test tube, which when cracked is thrown away.

The reality is that he simply couldnít make it in a cage. But then, he shouldnít have had to. Monkeys are not designed to live in cages. They have gone through ages of evolution to live in trees, in freedom. Fordís only crime was being himself, what he should have been Ė trapped in an environment where he should not have been. He was not suited to live with bars and steel. That environment is far too new for primates to have evolved suitably, and besides Ė far too few of them survive anyway.

His end was predictable, and is repeated with many variations across the U.S. Whenever monkeys simply canít live in the artificial conditions in which we place them, whether it is the laboratory, the zoo, or the animal dealer Ė they pay the ultimate price. A cage is a cage, and cages can be lethal.

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See: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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