20 October 2011

A long time coming: Army officials agree to end use of live monkeys

Aberdeen Proving Ground, a United States Army facility, and home to one of many Army Research Laboratories, located near Aberdeen, Maryland recently announced their intention to end the cruel and unnecessary use of live monkeys in their chemical casualty care courses, and replace them with non-animal training methods.

This, my friends, is a long time coming. Since the 19th century the United States Army, and the Department of Defense have implemented some of the most cruel and torturous practices against live, non-human animals, as commonplace and routine training methods.

Each year, approximately 342,000 primates, dogs, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, cats, and other animals are hurt and killed by the U.S. Department of Defense in experiments that rank among the most painful conducted in this country. The cost to taxpayers for these military experiments is estimated to be in excess of $225 million annually.

Published research indicates that military facilities across the United States test any and all manner of weaponry on these animals. From shooting live pigs in the face, and breaking and amputating the legs of live, conscious goats so that military medics and soldiers can practice the treatment of traumatic injury, to suspending dogs and cats from slings, and shooting them with high-powered weaponry so that their wounds would mimic those incurred in battle, allowing military personnel to practice their surgical skills. And rhesus monkeys are often prodded with electric shocks as a means of training them to “fly” in a B-52 flight simulator, before being dosed with high levels of gamma radiation, and in one published case, when evaluating the effect of temperature on mosquito disease transmission, several rhesus monkeys had their stomachs shaved before cartons of mosquitoes were attached to their bare bodies in order to feed.

So yes, it is a big deal that Aberdeen Proving Ground has openly acknowledged the unnecessary use of non-human animas in human-relevant simulations, but this is just the tip of a very deep iceberg. And, it appears that although the army has announced their plans to begin to phase out the use of the monkeys, they have not given a specific timeline as to when the phase out will begin or conclude.

It is imperative that we as constituents, and our supporting members of congress continue to speak out against the abhorrent and undeniably cruel practices, that have for too long been an acceptable means of military training. Please take the time to email Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, and respectfully ask him to end the cruel practices that lead to the daily pain and suffering of thousands of animals.

Erica Settino
Erica Settino is the co-founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Karuna For Animals: Compassion In Action, Inc. A long time vegetarian turned passionate vegan, she works tirelessly to educate others on the countless benefits of adopting a vegan diet. For more information about Erica and her work visit karunaforanimals.com.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/rednut