Pictures of twitching monkeys will greet convention-goers at this year’s Association of U.S. Army convention in Washington, D.C., next week courtesy of PETA.
The animal rights organization plans to take its campaign to halt tests on monkeys at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., to the Army’s highest-profile meeting. According to PETA, the Army is simulating the affects of a nerve agent on primates as part of chemical weapons training exercises.
Protesters plan to assemble near the convention center wearing monkey masks, display giant pictures of monkeys in agony and offer passersby the opportunity to view video of the tests, said Justin Goodman, an associate director of laboratory investigations for PETA.
“This kind of laboratory testing is unethical and it is a non-essential part of this exercise,” Goodman said.
Earlier this week, a protester interrupted Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, the head of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, during a talk at the University of Maryland to raise the issue (see above YouTube video). The protester was mildly booed, but Goodman said the protester spoke briefly and left peacefully.
Goodman said PETA’s protest is planned for public property, and there is no plan to enter the convention center or create disruptions.
According to PETA’s research, the monkeys were caught in the wild on St. Kitts and purchased by the Army specifically for the tests. They are kept for several months, during which they are
periodically injected every other month for three years with a drug that simulates nerve agent exposure and then the antidote. If they don’t die in their cages, they move on to other pain-free medical tests elsewhere where many of them are killed, Goodman said.
Goodman said the military’s own rules ban harming primates in
experiments chemical weapons training.
“They’re violating their own policies and no one cares enough to enforce it,” he said.
[Thanks to Mr. Goodman for the clarifications.]