Animal-Rights Activists Capture Park
by Matthew Dolbey, Campus Editor,
April 30, 2004
Students and area residents settled into Lisa Link
Peace Park Thursday and Friday, protesting the use of animals in
scientific research at the University of Wisconsin.
During the event, which coincides with World
Laboratory Animal Liberation Week, activists advocated to passersby,
with one demonstrator sitting in a cage slightly larger than a
Student organization Madison Coalition for Animal
Rights and community group Alliance for Animals displayed posters of a
primate in a seemingly painful device. They also showed videos of
animals undergoing surgery for research.
“Nobody’s said it's offensive,” Alliance member Lori
Nitzel said of the consistently graphic and bloody images on the screen.
“One person (a medical student) has been opposed to what we’re doing.
Nitzel said State Street passersby were more offended
by UW activity than the graphic display of the animals.
Helping people realize that animal research occurs at
UW is the main focus of the display, according to Nitzel.
“We’re hoping to get people thinking about these
issues,” Nitzel said.
Nitzel wants to make the community aware of animal
treatment, especially at Madison, because the university has a “pretty
miserable track record” in humane animal treatment, she said.
“UW is known for its [animal research in] good and bad
ways,” she added.
She pointed to a study compiled by Michael Budkie,
executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, a nonprofit
watchdog group specializing in animal research, who said UW has broken
the law relating to veterinary care of animals, among other things.
Budkie said no matter how few violations any research
institution commits, he is yet to find a “humane” or “effective” use of
“This is no longer about science, this is about
money,” Budkie said, adding that this is an issue taxpayers should be
aware of because of the $10 billion used yearly for the research.
Budkie said animal experimentation does not benefit
“There is no such thing as beneficial animal
experimentation," he said.
Rick Lane, associate director of UW’s Research Animal
Resources Center, disagreed with the activists’ views, saying that no
matter how much evidence is presented, animal protestors will never
concur with research investigators.
Lane also defended UW’s animal-keeping policies,
pointing to accreditation requirements by both public and private
authorities that mandate humane treatment and facilities.
“If you get that type of accreditation in the
animal-research area, it’s kind of like the Good Housekeeping Seal of
Approval,” Lane said.
Some research conducted on campus is on the “cutting
edge” not only to human interests like HIV but also to improving the
lives of domestic animals," he said.
Lane pointed to ongoing research studying cancer in
cats and dogs as an example.
“This also gives a tremendous teaching opportunity for
undergraduate to post-doctoral candidates [to conduct research] that
they can [use later in their career],” Lane said, adding that he is
“proud to be associated” with UW’s research.
Advocates asked students to fill out cards to send to
UW Chancellor John Wiley stating their opposition to animal testing at
UW, claiming it is “unacceptable” and “redundant.”
UW special student Stacy Taeuber, who wants to study
primates in the wild, said non-invasive research in an animal’s natural
habitat might be more effective.
“I think [lab research] is totally unnecessary…the
usefulness for animal experimentation [expired] many years ago," she