I received a flyer from S.A.E.N (Stop Animal Exploitation Now) in 2007. The caption in bold type read "Denying water to rhesus monkeys for 22 hours per day - there is no other word for this but...TORTURE.
Certainly anyone who claims to be compassionate would have to agree that depriving water to anyone - no matter the species for this length of time is cruel. Yet per Michael Budkie, the Executive Director of S.A.E.N. this happens in a laboratory many times. Rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and many other species are purposely deprived of water by people who call themselves "scientists."
Michael Budkie for the past few years has been tireless in his efforts to expose much cruelty to animals in laboratories with his main concern the primates. And well he should be concerned for them as they have been subjected to many cruel experiments over the years.
Recently, I began re-reading a 1985 Animals' Agenda - an animal rights magazine that I'm so sorry to report is no longer in publication. I found it full of important news re the animal condition - all in one slender black and white monthly magazine. I have many old copies which I like to refer to for information on so many different animal rights fronts -which they tackled so well.
The one which I'm sure that even Michael Budkie will find important but extremely sad was written in the 1985 edition entitled "Animal Rights, Human Wrongs" by Philip Zwerling. When he wrote this illuminating article he had been the Senior Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, California. He found that his concerns for peace, compassion, and basic justice were inter-related, and as the editors of AG noted- churches are perhaps one of the most important forums for speaking up for animal rights because they can present the case as the straightforward, moral issue that it is.
Sadly, you don't find too many people of Zwerling's ilk in most -if any churches, and he himself is no longer a minister - having left the ministry midway in his career to become an Asst. Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. After writing some 200 magazine and newspaper articles, he realized that this was his second calling.
Whether the statistics he refers to in his article still stand up today - in the 1980's he wrote that they show that every minute of the day, 24 hours a day, 150 animals were killed in this country in laboratories. Of the 70 million animals killed each year there, five million were used in the testing of industrial products through forced feeding and skin and eye application of things like oven cleaners to eye make-up. One can only imagination the horrendous suffering this caused these poor innocent victims.
He then writes that although he dislikes horror stories, he thinks that to make any kind of judgment we need to know what happens in these laboratories where there was no legal requirements that the animals be anesthetized.
I don't think I will ever watch a football game in the same way after finding out about the chimps who had specially designed helmets cemented to their skulls. This was an attempt do design a safer football helmet for human beings. Then these chimps received calibrated blows to their helmet- covered heads from these special machines to determine the strength required for that helmet until the chimp's skull was fractured. I was horrified when I read this. No, this was terribly cruel to the chimps. There should have been a more humane way to make a safer helmet.
He also wrote about other cruel experiments: "......dogs are driven insane with electric shocks to study what the scientists call 'learned helplessness.' Cats have been deprived of sleep until they die. Primates have been restrained for months in steel chairs allowing no movement. Technicians have cut the legs off mice to study how they walk on the stumps. And polar bears have been drowned in vats of salt water and crude oil to study the effects of oil leaks in polar climates. Kittens have been blinded, castrated, and rendered deaf to see how that would affect their sexual development." (I know that similar experimentation on kittens had been done in Boys Town, Nebraska. I wrote them my great distress that a Catholic institution supposedly devoted to helping homeless boys was involved with this cruel research. Of course, I never received a reply.)
I believe Peter Singer in his book "Animal Liberation" mentions either these experiments or others which were equally cruel. Many of us have written countless letters during the years to these places of torture - knowing full well that the people who believed in doing this to defenseless animals would not stop. A lot of "credit" should go to the National Institute of Health which REQUIRES that animal subjects be used in order to get a grant for which you and I, the taxpaper, is paying for. Yes, Mohatma Gandhi said you can judge a nation by the way it treats its animals. If you weren't appalled by the experimentation described above, know that there are others like myself who were and are.
In his post he also mentions the great naturalist John Muir who denounced the notion that "animals have neither mind nor soul, no rights that we are bound to respect, and animals were made only for man to be petted, slaughtered or enslaved." Would that our churches believe and preach this simple truth as well.