Animal researchers usually try to display some respect for the animals they experiment on. They may do things they don't want you to know about to animals and install elaborate security measures just to be sure, but they usually say they honor the animal's sacrifice and it will benefit people as well as other animals.
But not so with a primate researcher at Wake Forest University. In a PowerPoint presentation at a National Institute on Aging workshop which appeared on the NIA web site until July, the researcher finds the primates who will give their lives to science...funny.
The first photo in the presentation shows an orangutan who someone has put in an aqua colored flannel dress with white diamonds on it. Her face is contorted in terror. A green, comic strip style balloon is coming out of her mouth. It says, "I just don't know what to think," as if her anguish stems from research questions in the lab instead of her tenure there. Ha ha
The next mirthful photo shows a chimpanzee appearing to have typed a page on a typewriter to illustrate the "cognition research" being performed in the lab. Get it?
A third amusing photo shows a capuchin monkey who someone has dressed up in big black eyeglasses that are barely supported by her little skull. She is also commenting about the ongoing research in the lab. There is a chain around her neck and she appears to be held in position by human hands.
Also pictured in the presentation, reminiscent of Dr. Harry Harlow's "pit of despair" experiments at the University of Wisconsin, is a cynomolgus monkey that has been "psychosocially stressed" to serve as a model for the "perimenopausal transition."
Harlow, famous for his "rape rack" and "iron maiden" inventions for primates, is considered the architect of the National Primate Research Centers system which still operates a lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and operates labs at other locations.
The presentation, called Cardiovascular Health and Cognition: Perspectives on Using the Primate as a Model, was part of an official NIA workshop in 2004 and created by Wake Forest's Thomas Clarkson, DVM. When a reporter asked NIA about the derision shown toward animals and science itself, the PDF was removed from the NIA site. Barbara Cire with NIA's Office of Communications and Public Liaison said, "As to the imagery on the slides, NIH posted the presentation as delivered. Questions about the images should be directed to the speaker."
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