Animal rights activist protest Princeton University primate laboratory

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"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Animal rights activist protest Princeton University primate laboratory

By Mike Davis, The Times, Saturday, April 27, 2013
Photos by Mike Davis

PRINCETON — Irene Simmons once visited Nassau Street for lunch every day since she retired from the U.S. Navy last year, as a civilian software programmer.

But when a whistle-blower published photos of laboratory primates subjected to harsh conditions at Princeton University’s Developmental Neuromechanics and Communication Lab, the Hopewell Township resident couldn’t stomach her usual routine.

“I can’t bear to drive through this area, sit outside and enjoy myself knowing that animals are being tortured,” Simmons said.

Simmons was one of a dozen activists gathered in the middle of the busy downtown yesterday, at the corner of Nassau Street and Washington Road, protesting the laboratory’s continued testing on primates.

SAEN Princeton primate lab demo 

Displaying colorful signs — “Princeton, you should be ashamed” — the protesters passed out fliers detailing federal violations and cases of alleged neglect and abuse at the lab.

Simmons was reminded of her parents, Holocaust survivors, and said animal testing is akin to Nazi atrocities.

SAEN Princeton primate lab demo 

“They’re saying, ‘It’s OK to experiment on animals because humans are the most important species,’” Simmons said. “The same principles that set foot in the 1930s are still persisting.

“I see a lot of people walk by with dogs, but they don’t respond to us because they think the cows and monkeys that are being experimented on are below dogs,” she said.

SAEN Princeton primate lab demo 

Marianne Bessey, coordinating the event for Animal ACTivists of Philly, said the university should follow the path of Harvard University, which announced this week that it would phase out primate research.

“We’re here raising awareness about the waste of money in general spent experimenting on animals,” Bessey said. “Billions of our taxpayer money every year goes toward it, and a lot of it is very repetitive research to keep people in jobs and get grant money for the university.”

The university was cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare in June 2010, when inspectors discovered insufficient water levels and painkillers for the animals. A whistle-blower leaked graphic photographs and an eyewitness account of alleged abuse of the animals in September 2011.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now, a Cincinnati animal rights group, aired some of the photographs in a 2011 television commercial and organized yesterday’s protest as part of World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week.

Many of the protesters displayed enlarged copies of the whistle-blower’s photographs, borrowing a quote from German physician and scholar Albert Schweitzer: “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”

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