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Video of the Rescue of Britches
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"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.

Britches was removed from the laboratory, along with 700 other animals, when he was five weeks old during a raid on April 20, 1985 by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The ALF made a videotape of their raid and of Britches' condition when they found him. As a result of the publicity when the video was released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and after condemnation of the experiments by scientists and the American Council of the Blind, eight of the 17 studies interrupted by the raid were not restarted, and the university stopped allowing baby monkey's eyes to be sewn shut, according to reports filed by the university with the government. Dr. Grant Mack, president of the American Council of the Blind, called the experiment "one of the most repugnant and ill-conceived boondoggles that I've heard about for a long time".

Activists say they found Britches alone in a cage with bandages around his eyes and a sonar device attached to his head that emitted a high-pitched screech every few minutes. He was clinging to a device, covered in towelling, that had two fake nipples attached, apparently intended to serve as a surrogate mother.

Veterinarian ophthalmologist Dr. Ned Buyukmihci of the University of California, Davis, and founder of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, examined Britches after he was removed from the lab. He stated that the sutures used were too large and that the monkey's eye pads were filthy. He said: "There is no possible justification for this sloppy, painful experiment."

A veterinarian hired by the ALF also examined Britches and wrote a report on the day of his theft from the lab. According to Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the report read: On this day, April 20, 1985, I have been called to administer an examination and follow-up care to an infant stumptail macaque, male, my guess approximately five weeks of age. Said infant allegedly liberated by the Animal Liberation Front from the UC-Riverside laboratory.

Attached to infant's head by means of bandage and tape is an apparatus of some sort with what appears to be some sort of electrical cord extending from it. It has been cut. Bilaterally are short lengths of tubing emerging from the bandage. Tape is in direct contact with the face and neck. Bandage lifted rostrally from right eye due to excessive moisture and right eye partially visible.

Beneath the bandages are two cotton pads, one for each eye ... Both pads are filthy and soaked with moisture. Bilaterally upper eyelids are sutured to lower eyelids. The sutures are grossly oversized for the purpose intended. Many of these sutures have torn through lid tissue resulting in multiple lacerations of the lids. There is an open space between upper and lower lids of both eyes of about one quarter inch, and sutures are contacting corneal tissue resulting in excessive tearing ...

When he was five months old, Britches was flown to Primarily Primates in San Antonio where they changed his name to Junior. Junior lived with Ernie as an infant, and two female macaques, Kimba and Elizabeth. Junior died around the age of 20. Primarily never went public with the story of Britches to protect him and other sanctuary residents.

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