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Video of the Rescue of Britches
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THE STORY OF BRITCHES AS TOLD BY A BRITISH SCIENTIST WHO WAS ONCE A WITNESS TO ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION
"The second case concerned Britches, a newborn stumptail macaque monkey. Ungainly, with large sticky-out ears, he was nevertheless beautiful. Like any other baby macaque, he would have had huge round eyes and would have spent the early months, even years of his life clinging to his mother. Neither of those things applied to Britches because immediately after birth at the University of California's research centre at Riverside, Los Angeles, in 1985, he was removed from his mother and his eyelids were stitched together.
The stitches which blinded him were not even the neat, surgical sutures of experience but huge crude stitches with thick twine, the stitches of indifference, the equivalent of stitching a human's eyes with string.
So desperate was this little creature for comfort that he would cling on to and hug anything placed in his cage - a blanket, a small cuddly toy, anything. But, deprived of all comfort, all maternal care, and kept in a sterile and barren cage without stimulation, he was mostly allowed only a padded cylinder to cling to.
Watching one animal inflict such intense suffering on another, particularly one so innocent and uncomprehending is, undoubtedly, the worst sight I have ever seen in my life. And the reason for this experiment? To determine the effect of blindness on children. The vivisectors at the University of California excused their use of the monkey by saying that the daily routine of children's lives made it too difficult to work with them.
What type of mind could have conceived of this and, perhaps more importantly, could have carried it out?
The wide-ranging work I did on vivisection led me to conclude that most vivisectors fall into one of two categories. To the first, all that matters is cause and effect. They have absolutely no concept of suffering and no conscience about what they do. They storm into the laboratory, administer the injections or shocks or force feeding, storm out again and await the results. They are, in its truest interpretation, the psychopaths of science.
The second type is the sadist. We have been brought up with a belief, repeated and reinforced every time a vivisector talks about their work, that they partake in it unwillingly and in our best interests. It's nonsense. Many of these people obviously get a buzz out of the torture they administer and the name of the game is power. There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that they would do these same things to humans without a second thought if it were given legitimacy. There was no shortage of scientists and doctors eager to carry out unspeakable experiments on humans at Buchenwald and other concentration camps. Perhaps even more frightening, there were almost no lengths to which British and US security forces would not go in order to spirit these people out of Germany at the end of the war and save them from trial in order to have access to their knowledge. This sadistic breed of scientists did not suddenly appear from nowhere and live only in Nazi Germany. They exist everywhere."
The story of Britches has a happier ending than most vivisection victims. He was released from his misery when still a young baby, the stitches removed from his eyes and the long and painful process of trying to repair the acute psychological damage undertaken. It would be nice to think that this compassionate response was initiated by the vivisectors responsible for his pain - but it wasn't. It was made possible only because the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) broke into the laboratories and released him, finding a loving and caring refuge where he would be safe.
It's quite difficult for me when asked by journalists about my views on the ALF. The question is usually posed in conjunction with alleged ALF violence against humans and I know that any vaguely supportive response will be used as a stick with which to beat me and my organization, particularly as I work so much with young people. Of course I don't support any action that endangers human life or safety. But when I look at footage of Britches' abysmal life at the hands of his vivisectors and then a few months after his rescue, my heart goes out to those who were brave enough to risk their own liberty to release him from such a squalid existence.
Britches was the name given by researchers to a stumptail macaque monkey who was
born into a breeding colony at the University of California, Riverside in March
1985. He was removed from his mother at birth as part of a psychology experiment
into maternal deprivation, and had his eyelids sewn shut as part of a three-year
sight-deprivation study involving 24 infant monkeys.
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