Activists protest against animal research during World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week

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Activists protest against animal research during World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week

By Loic Hostetter, The Daily Bruin, April 26, 2011

Demonstrators gathered Monday on Westwood Boulevard to demonstrate against the use of animals in scientific research.

Protestors in surgical masks and hazmat suits spattered with fake blood gathered at the corner of Le Conte Avenue and Westwood Boulevard on Monday afternoon to denounce animal research.

“Hey UCLA, what do you say?” called one protestor.

“How many animals have you killed today?” the group responded.

A group of 50 to 60 activists from various animal rights organizations spoke against what they say is inhumane treatment of animals in UCLA laboratories.

Holding signs and chanting, the group moved between laboratories on campus, trailed by several university police officers on bicycles and in a police car. At one point, the group gathered on the lawns in front of Kerckhoff Hall to give a speech.

The protest was organized in coordination with groups near UC Davis and UC Berkeley that are rallying for World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week, which plays host to annual protests by animal rights groups across the country.

This came as the latest installment in a long-standing ethical debate between UCLA researchers and anti-animal research groups.

UCLA alumna Susan Johnson has been protesting against animal research since 1985 and said she has seen an increasing trend of reclusive behavior on the part of the administration.

The last instance of dialogue between both sides was “UCLA: The Science and Ethics of Animal Research,” a panel discussion held in February of 2010, said Jill Ryther, an animal rights attorney and 2009 graduate of UCLA School of Law.

Ryther said she thinks the panel was very successful, but nothing of the sort has happened since.

UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton said UCLA’s administration and researchers are very willing to talk with animal rights activists with opposing views, except when those people do not speak out against the violent and criminal actions some animal rights groups have aimed at UCLA researchers.

Hampton said the university ensures proper care of animals in laboratories is taken, and research is monitored according to federal and UC standards.

There is rigorous oversight by the government and the UCLA administration on the laboratories that test on animals to prevent abuse, Hampton said.

For animal research to be performed by UCLA faculty, they must first prove that their experiment necessitates the use of animal subjects, he said. Animals are used if it is the only way to proceed with their research.

What would be inhumane, he added, would be eliminating hope for people with medical conditions who would benefit from research that uses animal subjects.

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