Animal rights activists invade Downing Site as mark of protest
Protestation by Animal Rights Cambridge against “fundamentally immoral” animal testing
by Helen Mackreath
Tuesday 20th April 2010, 10:59 BST
The Downing Site was besieged by activists from Animal Rights Cambridge last Friday, who staged a vociferous protest in conjunction with the national University Vivisection Week of Action.
The group, which has been in operation since 1978, were protesting against research conducted at Cambridge University, which uses animals as human models for basic and applied brain research.
Brandishing signs and banners, the activists used loudspeakers to attract attention, and handed out anti-animal experimentation flyers to passers-by. Their protest lasted several hours, before their eventual ejection by police after a stand-off with security guards.
A Cambridge University spokesman said: "They were asked to leave as they were disrupting college business. Although it is not term time there are research students working on the site.
"People have a right to peaceful protest but not when it disrupts the work at the university."
Campaigns follow on from a 10 month undercover investigation of the University by The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), which secretly filmed 400-500 hundred marmoset monkeys imprisoned in small cages for the purpose of primate brain research.
According to the BUAV, the monkeys were deliberately brain damaged for a mixture of ‘basic research’, which aimed to find out about the primate brain, and ‘applied research’, which tried to develop a marmoset ‘model’ of human illnesses, such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
Spokesman for the protest, Aran Mathai, argued that "these painful, cruel tests and baron sterile animal housing that cause animals to literally go mad with boredom belong firmly in the past". He went on to urge Cambridge University to divert all funds being "squandered" on animal research to funding for human relevant testing such as micro-dosing, DNA chips and computer modelling.
One protestor, Joan Court, decried the research as "cruel, unnecessary and fundamentally immoral". She equated it to being "just like the slave trade".
Another protestor, Sue Hughes, pointed out that a growing body of research is providing substantial evidence that animals are "more and more like us in their needs and cognitive ability", which makes their use for clinical research "more and more inhumane".
In their statement, the group strongly emphasize their support for human relevant medical research arguing that "being against animal research is about supporting research that related directly to human beings".
Meanwhile, a University spokeswoman said: "Good science and good animal welfare go hand in hand. The UK has the most rigorous animal welfare regulations in the world.
"The University of Cambridge has always adhered to these regulations and will continue to work to the highest possible standards of animal care.
"Without animal research, which is only used when there is no alternative; many treatments we take for granted today would not be possible."