Animal rights groups holding vigil at UMass asking 45 primates be freed

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Animal rights groups holding vigil at UMass asking 45 primates be freed

By Diane Lederman,, Friday, October 17, 2014

AMHERST –Stop Animal Exploitation NOW is holding a vigil at the University of Massachusetts Saturday from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. in the Student Union asking the university to free 45 primates on campus.

The vigil is part of Primate Liberation Week, a national campaign by a coalition of animal rights organizations to awareness about the plight of over 64,000 primates in the United States, according to a press release.

Members of Western Mass Animal Rights Advocates and Animal Advocates of Smith College are leading the vigil and according to a press release are hoping to "to educate the public about the horrors of primate experimentation, including what is happening at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and to invite UMass to become a leader in innovation, embracing new ways to perform research and make progress without harming animals, and to consider creating a campus based sanctuary for the care and rehabilitation of freed lab primates.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Annual report last December, UMass had 45 non-human primates and of those four were not given anesthetic, analgesic, or tranquilizing drugs because the administration of such "would have adversely affected the procedures, results, or interpretation of the teaching, research, experiments, surgery, or tests," according to the report. The others were given such medication if needed.

"We don't have a comment on the primate research," said spokesman Patrick J. Callahan.

According to the Center for Research on Families webiste, Melinda Novak established the UMass Primate Laboratory as a small primate facility in which students receive training in handling and managing captive primates, performing behavioral and health assessments, and conducting research. It is one of several departments on campus where primates are used.

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