By Dustin Garrett Rhodes
When the New York Times reports that there’s a new study turning monkeys into couch potatoes, in an effort to study the link between obesity and diabetes, my first reaction is: duh!, of course being an over-eating couch potato is unhealthy. But as an animal advocate, it’s hard not to wonder: how on earth is this science, or ethical, in the 21st Century?
The fact that primates-our closest relative-are used is not the only reason I am disturbed; it’s the fact that any non-human animal at all is used. The only way to know the effects of diet and exercise (or lack thereof) on the health of humans is to study humans-not primates.
Friends of Animals manages a sanctuary in San Antonio, Texas-Primarily Primates-that is home to many primates who were the victims of the vivisection industry. Some of them still bear the literal tattoos and emotional scars-and that’s not to mention all the things you can’t see: the damaged livers and kidneys; the loss of autonomy; the fact that they were removed from their natural habitats, the families from which they were removed.
It’s a blessing that these animals ended up at Primarily Primates; many, if not most, of the animals used by researchers end up dead. Primarily Primates, day in and day out, works hard to provide the best life possible for these animals, in as natural a setting as possible; they are allowed, often for the first time in their lives, to be the chimpanzees, gibbons, spider monkeys, macaques, baboons, etc., they were born to be. And that’s quite beautiful. [Here are some fabulous videos of animals at the sanctuary.]
But the day when animals are no longer imprisoned, poked and prodded, and systematically destroyed in the name of “science” can’t come too soon.