July 30, 2007, 10:14 am
Filed under: Primate experimentation

Government ordered to be more truthful about severity of experiments it
licenses in UK.

The Government was today found guilty of turning a blind eye to
substantial suffering of animals in Home Office licensed experiments and
consequently misleading the public over the extent of animal suffering
in UK laboratories.

High Court Judge Mitting ruled that the Home Secretary acted unlawfully
in licensing invasive brain experiments on Marmosets at Cambridge
University as ‘/moderate’ /rather than /‘substantial’ /suffering/. /

His ruling that the Government unlawfully licenses experiments follows a
Judicial Review hearing at the High Court in London this week. It was
brought by the BUAV based on extensive video and documentary evidence it
collected during a ten month undercover investigation of a Cambridge
University neuroscience primate lab during 2000/2001.

The investigation revealed the Home Office assigned a ‘/moderate/’
suffering banding to experiments which included highly invasive
procedures such as removing of the top of marmoset’s heads to induce
strokes. The guidelines state that any procedure which ‘/may lead to a
major departure from the animals’ usual state of health and of
well-being/’ must be categorised as ‘/substantial’/, and therefore
undergo far stricter assessment to get licensed.

The Judgment should mean a greater number of licenses will not be
granted, as correctly categorised ‘/substantial’/ procedures will not
pass the key /cost /(to the animal): /benefit /(to research) test. It is
also likely to mean that the percentage of licences categorised as
‘/substantial’/ will be perhaps considerably higher, and therefore offer
the public a more accurate picture of the extent of animal suffering
that goes on in UK Government licensed experiments.

‘We have proven that the Government misleads the public and Parliament
about the severity of animal experiments licensed in the UK,’ said BUAV
chief executive Michelle Thew.

‘The government can no longer pretend it has the strictest regulation of
animal experiments in the world. This case demonstrates it has ridden
roughshod over the public’s trust in this matter.

‘Now we hope taxpayers – the vast majority of whom are opposed to animal
suffering in laboratories – will be given more accurate information
about the animal experiments they fund.’

The BUAV was awarded a rare costs protection order by Mr Justice Bean
last year to enable it to bring this case in the public interest after
the Home Office projected its defence costs would amount to up to


Bonobo Poaching: I Find Bushmeat Market in the Middle of Congo
July 27, 2007, 5:18 pm
Filed under: The Bushmeat Crisis

by Ashley Vosper


Adult female shot near Obenge, on the Lomami River. Lack of fishing is a sign that the locals aren’t originally from here. Did they come with the Belgians or the Arab slave traders?

When I asked where he had killed her, Jafari, the hunter, waved in a general sort of way to the northeast, across the Lomami. I did not say much else. He was proud and let me take a picture.

Jafari killed this adult female with his old Belgian gun. Over the last few days I have heard other shots from the village. I have also seen monkey snares in the forest nearby. These, too, could catch bonobo.

There is much more hunting than I recognized at first. Yesterday a pirogue came back with an elephant chopped into hunks. There are war guns, lots of them, left in this country after the long rebellion. An AK47 is just 300 dollars in Kisangani. That is the weapon that was used to kill the elephant.

There are many more animals killed than are needed to feed this small village. Apparently a few women-traders travel across the forest from villages on the Lualaba. They bring salt, sugar, cloth and probably shotgun shells. Then they carry back bushmeat.

How often are Bonobo Killed? I don’t know. How far away do Jafari and his friends hunt? I don’t know.

Strange that they can be so poor here and yet they can empty the forest of what the world considers its greatest riches. And still they stay so poor. The kids in this village don’t go to school – there is none – and, of course, there is no health center at all.

Is it possible to make a difference – for the bonobo and the people? I am sure it is.

Jafari with gun (see below)


July 27, 2007, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Chimps in entertainment

July 23, 2007.

by Rick Bogle

Apollo died when he was 7 years old, one year ago today. Like many captive
chimps, he had a tumultuous life. He was born at the infamous and
now-defunct Coulston Foundation, where he was probably taken from his mother
within hours of birth, only to be slapped in with bunches of babies and
raised with limited maternal influence. The babies would line up in a row
and hug each other, front to back, rocking. Around 18 months, Apollo was
used as a bartering chip – he’d be given to a Hollywood chimpanzee trainer
in exchange for a rosy documentary about his not-so-rosy birthplace. It was
the first of many exchanges in which Apollo would play an unwitting role. If
he hadn’t been a part of that exchange, he’d probably have been used for
invasive experiments. So his new trainer was “saving” him from research. But
even in salvation, he couldn’t survive.

I first met Apollo when I was working undercover. At first sight, I knew I’d
fall in love with him. He was the trouble-maker of the group, and those boys
are always my favorites. Sweet and smart, but misunderstood and mistreated.
My kind of guy. I wanted to get to know him better but since he was marked
as the bad boy, I wasn’t always allowed to interact with him. I remember one
special day when I was sitting on the lawn grooming him. He head-bobbed at
me. It’s a fun, happy signal: Play with me! Before I could stop myself I
accepted by head bobbing back. But the trainer grabbed me. “Don’t do that!
It means he’s about to attack!” He had no idea what it meant.

Apollo was so curious and mischievous. He always wanted to look up peoples’
shirts – especially women’s shirts. He wanted to play, he wanted to wrestle.
He was smart. He bit people. Of course he did. He was a juvenile male
chimpanzee. He had all the natural, normal impulses. He tested his limits
constantly. As a result, he received the most brutal beatings I saw when I
was undercover. I saw him punched, kicked, beaten, and more. Big, grown men
tried to assert their dominance over him constantly. Once, when he bit a
trainer, he suffered greatly. Though I didn’t see the beating, I saw his
face afterwards. It was so swollen. He looked at me without his usual
glimmer. We were alone so I said out loud – “Are you okay?” There was a
heartbreaking acceptance in his puffy eyes. That was his life and he knew
it. He was only 4 years old at the time.

Early on, he was used on TV and in movies, in advertisements and at
celebrity parties. But his mischief was hard to control, so his “jobs”
declined over the years. At the end of his short life, he was living in a
cage at a compound out in the desert. I’m told he was alone in that cage. He
should never have been there. His mom shouldn’t have been used as a breeding
machine. He shouldn’t have been born into biomedical research. He shouldn’t
have been tossed off to Hollywood. He shouldn’t have been forced to “smile”
on cue so we could laugh at him. He shouldn’t have experienced what he did.

I was devastated when I learned that he died suddenly, still under his
trainer’s care. I hadn’t helped him. I hadn’t made a difference for him. A
few months later, his compatriots at the compound were rescued and retired
to sanctuaries. He should have gone with them – a small “thank you” after so
many years of suffering. I couldn’t help him.

There are many more Apollos out there. In labs, in training compounds, in
back yards. I tell his story today because we must help them.

On this day, remember Apollo.

July 27, 2007, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Primate experimentation

Judicial Review shines light on Government negligence over animal
‘protection’ laws

The Government will be forced to answer allegations that it ignores its
legal duty to ensure animal suffering is kept to a minimum in UK labs,
in a case to be heard by the High Court this week (Tues 24^th – 26th July)

A High Court Judge will consider extensive evidence that the Government
turns a blind eye to substantial suffering of animals in Home Office
licensed experiments, and therefore misleads the public in its
assurances that regulation of animal research UK is ‘strict’ and that
‘animals don’t suffer.’

The Judicial Review is based on extensive video and documentary evidence
collected by the BUAV during a ten month undercover investigation of a
Cambridge University neuroscience primate lab during 2000/2001.

The investigation revealed that marmoset monkeys were left unattended
for 15 hours or more after undergoing highly invasive brain surgery –
sometimes with either no painkiller or just one dose of calpol to
relieve the pain.

The BUAV is also questioning why the Home Office assigned a ‘moderate’
suffering banding to experiments which included highly invasive
procedures such as removing of the top of marmoset’s heads to induce
strokes. The guidelines state that any procedure which ‘/may lead to a
major departure from the animals’ usual state of health and of
well-being/’ must be categorised as ‘/substantial’/, and undergo far
stricter assessment to get licensed.

The BUAV was awarded a rare costs protection order by Mr Justice Bean
last year to enable it to bring this case in the public interest after
the Home Office projected its defence costs would amount to up to
£150,000 (see notes to editor).

‘These findings entirely undermine the credibility of the Government’s
defence of animal research in the UK – namely that it is strictly
regulated and that animals don’t really suffer,’ said BUAV chief
executive Michelle Thew.

‘This case demonstrates the Government rides roughshod over the public’s
trust in this matter. The Government refuses to be held to account on
this issue – it routinely rejects FOI requests about animal experiments
out of hand.

‘It is the sad fact that the public’s only real access to information
about the reality of animal experiments is via undercover investigations
by a not for profit organisation. Furthermore, it is entirely
unacceptable that a democratic government is not held to account on
activities funded by taxpayers – the vast majority of whom are opposed
to animal suffering in laboratories’ (/see notes to editor)./

Chimps in Japan living out lives in sanctuary
July 27, 2007, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Interesting Chimp Stories

Chimp research ban may help studies into aging

Seventy-eight chimpanzees once used for medical testing will now give
researchers insights into how to improve geriatric care for humans.
Since a ban on medical testing on chimpanzees last year, the aging
primates have been living out their days at a luxurious ape “retirement”
center run in Kumamoto Prefecture by a pharmaceutical company.

A new research wing will open at the center on Aug. 1 to study the aging
process in primates.

The project, an initiative of Kyoto University and Nagoya-based Sanwa
Kagaku Kenkyusho Co. pharmaceutical company, will be funded by drug

Chimps were first brought to Japan by drug companies in the 1970s for
research on infectious diseases caused by viruses and bacteria and for
new drug trials.

Chimps are now classified as endangered. Under the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also
known as the Washington Convention, Japan banned the import and export
of the primates since 1980.

With mounting pressure from animal rights activists to stop experiments
on living animals, experiments on chimps were halted in Japan last year.

Baby gorilla found alive after mass “execution” in Congo
July 27, 2007, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Gorillas

27.07.2007 / 13:05
NEW YORK. July 27. KAZINFORM. Three female mountain gorillas and a male silverback were found shot dead this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park.

But park rangers received some good news yesterday when the five-month-old baby of one of the dead females was found alive.

The baby gorilla, named Ndeze, was badly dehydrated but otherwise fine, the rangers reported.

She was taken to the nearby city of Goma, where the young ape will be looked after at the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.

Ndeze received widespread international attention in February when its mother, called Safari, gave birth—a rare occurrence among the troubled mountain gorillas.

Safari was among the three females found dead, but the baby’s older brother rescued her from the mother’s body after the attack, rangers say.

The siblings had been seen fleetingly in the dense forest, but rangers had expected that the baby would die from dehydration because the brother could not feed her.

When they found the pair, rangers say, Ndeze’s brother was reportedly calm as they took her away.

Paulin Ngobobo, the head ranger of the southern sector of Virunga National Park, called the baby’s rescue “an amazing piece of news.”

“We had given up hope on Ndeze,” he said.

Silverback Shot

The four adult gorillas were shot to death by unknown assailants on Sunday night.

The slaughter deeply shocked the rangers and conservationists who work to protect the endangered gorillas in a park that has been ravaged by civil strife for years.

“This is a disaster,” said Emmanuel de Merode, director of WildlifeDirect, a conservation group based in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya that supports the rangers working in Virunga.

Park staff and WildlifeDirect officials stationed in Virunga’s Bukima camp said they heard gunshots coming from inside the dense forest around 8 p.m. on Sunday.

When the rangers ventured into the forest on Monday morning, they found the three female gorillas.

“The gorillas were all quite close together. They had all been shot,” de Merode said.

In addition to Safari, another dead female was the mother of a two-year-old. The third gorilla killed was pregnant.

It was not until the following day that rangers found the silverback Senkekwe, the leader of the so-called Rugendo family of 12 individuals.

Another two gorillas from the family are reportedly missing, their fate unknown.

Rebel Militias

The Rugendo family is one of several groups of gorillas that live on the Congo side of the sprawling Virunga National Park, which straddles the border of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, and are visited from the Bukima camp, Kazinform quotes National Geographic News.

More than half of the gorillas’ population, estimated at about 700, is found in Virunga. The rest live in forests in Rwanda and Uganda.

The park lies in the heart of one of the most troubled regions of Africa.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is struggling to emerge from a civil war that has left an estimated four million people dead and dates back to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Today the area is home to a vast array of rebel militias, government soldiers, foreign troops, and villagers who are unsympathetic to the rangers protecting the park. Poaching remains a major problem.

Early this year two silverback gorillas were killed within the span of two days in the same area as where the latest killings occurred. The incident sparked an international outcry of support for the embattled gorillas.

Those apes appeared to have been butchered for their meat. One of them had had his dismembered body dumped in a latrine.

Act of Sabotage

Last month a female gorilla from the Kabirizi family was found shot to death in the park.

Another female from that family has been missing ever since and is presumed to have been killed too.

Sunday’s “execution-style” killing of the gorillas was identical to the killing last month, de Merode said.

He believes the slaughter was meant to send a chilling message to the rangers to get out of the park.

“We don’t think it was the villagers who did it,” he said. “This was deliberate … an act of sabotage.”

De Merode said there is evidence from the site of the killings linking the incident to the area’s lucrative charcoal trade.

Apparently the killers had tried to burn one of the bodies.

Virtually all the charcoal supplied to nearby Goma—worth an estimated U.S. $30 million a year—is made from wood harvested illegally inside Virunga National Park, he said.

“Last year Rwanda put a ban on any charcoal production within Rwanda,” de Merode said.

“This means that whole country’s charcoal is largely supplied from Congo,” he added. “This has put a lot of pressure on the park.”