TV commercial to air alleged primate abuse at Princeton

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TV commercial to air alleged primate abuse at Princeton

By Samantha Costa,, Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization called Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) plans to air a 30-second television commercial critical of animal experiments at Princeton University.

“Obviously, what we want to have happen, the abuse of primates at Princeton, needs to end,” Michael A. Budkie, executive director of SAEN, said. “We think that people in the Princeton area need to know this is what this university calls science.”

In September, a whistleblower leaked graphic photographs and an eyewitness account of alleged animal mistreatment and killings by Princeton’s Primate Neuroethology Laboratory.

SAEN originally planned to run the commercial today on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Animal Planet, but Budkie said yesterday that legal departments in the cable corporations have delayed its release.

Still, Budkie said he is confident it will run this week.

The commercial shows flashes of images of primates placed in research devices with bolts in their skulls. The photographs are only a few that the lab’s whistleblower released in September. Some of the images were left out of the commercial due to their graphic nature, Budkie said.

Some images are disturbing even for him, but he said they portray the reality of the situation.

“That’s why we used the photos we did. They accurately reflect what’s happening in this laboratory,” he said.

Across the bottom of the screen, text in the video reads, “This is torture” in bold red letters. At the conclusion of the commercial, the group asks viewers to call the president of the university to voice their concerns.

Princeton University spokesman Martin Mbugua said the school is aware of the commercial, but he said it will not affect the future of primate research at the lab.

“The unfortunate reality is that groups like these do not recognize the breakthroughs achieved by leading research institutions, and they resorted to distortion and sensationalist tactics that mislead the public,” Mbugua said.

Mbugua said SAEN has misrepresented facts and refers to “unverified allegations from several years ago” in the commercial.

He said the university takes reports of animal abuse seriously.

“We sustain commitment to strong oversight of animal research through an approach of continuous review of Princeton’s institutional animal care and use committee,” he said.

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