Sunday, April 29, 2012

A question of morality; Ours not theirs

In 1988, I read an article in the Houston Chronicle about Lucy Temerlin, a sign-language using chimpanzee raised as if she were human. The very next day, I began the 15 years of research that would lead to the publication of my second novel, Hurt Go Happy.

A few days ago a friend sent me this TED video. Frans De Waal is renown behaviorist who has been studying chimps at Yerkes in Atlanta for decades. I love TED videos. I've posted others, and I liked this one. It's about moral behavior in animals, specifically the ability of chimps, monkeys and elephants to show empathy, compassion, and work cooperatively. It's amusing in places, and the audience laughs. That's the part I hated. It lets us almost but not quite take the intelligence of animals seriously. I know. I'm overly sensitive about this, but all these strides in understanding how closely our emotions mimic the emotional state of animals were experiments done on captive animals. Caged animals. We are performing experiments that show that animals can suffer just as deeply as we can. Anybody with a pet dog knows that. So how much more testing do we need? THEY HAVE FEELINGS AND A MORAL CODE. SO STOP ALREADY.


Then a few nights ago CNN did a segment on removal of the last of the chimpanzees from the Coulston Foundation in Alamogorda, NM, to their new home at the Save the Chimp sanctuary in Fort Pierce, FL. The Coulston Foundation was where used up circus chimps, chimps from movies and commercials, and all the chimps from our space program were sent, and where, for the next 3 decades, biomedical experiments were conducted on them. (In Hurt Go Happy, the Coulston Foundation is the Clarke Foundation. My publisher made me change the name.)

There are series of videos, including portions of the CNN broadcast on the Save the Chimps site.


Chimpanzees as medical test subjects (source CNN.com)
The United States is one of two remaining countries--the other being Gabon--that legally allow chimps and other great apes to be used in invasive biomedical research, according to the Humane Society of the United States. However, other countries still contract the services of research centers that use chimps, according to Dr. Thomas Rowell Director of the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana.

There are more than 930 chimpanzees at U.S. medical research facilities, most of them used for hepatitis testing, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine issued in December. The report stated that chimpanzees are not necessary for most biomedical research. The institute recognized two possible uses for chimps: one for cancerous tumors that are already part of ongoing investigations, and the other for a hepatitis C vaccine.

A panel of experts advising the National Institutes of Health on how to implement the the Institute of Medicine's report is expected to issue its recommendations by the end of the year.


A wake for a dead chimp
My question is, if chimps suffer, feel pain, show empathy, work cooperatively, fall in love, and mourn their dead, what kind of society are we to still perform experiments on them?  Human?  Inhumane? Inhuman

 http://pcrm.org/news/doctors_federal_complaint_halt_transfer_alamogordo_chimpanzees_100922.html

1 comment:

  1. An interesting follow-up video
    http://www.wimp.com/smartdogs/

    Another friend recommended this book.
    "An Unnatural Order: Uncovering the Roots of Our Domination of Nature and Each Other"
    by Jim Mason

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