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Animal research rallies peaceful; pro-research demonstration much larger

April 22, 2009 | 12:45 pm

Competing rallies at UCLA today over the controversial issue of animal research are peaceful so far, with supporters of the research appearing to outnumber opponents by more than 10 to 1.

About 400 people, including UCLA faculty, staff and students, have joined a pro-research rally on the northwest corner of Westwood Boulevard and Le Conte Avenue, just south of the campus. The demonstrators are carrying signs with such slogans as "Animal research saves lives" and "Campus terrorism is not OK."

As numerous police officers stood by, the pro-research group briefly traded slogans across Westwood Boulevard with a smaller, rival rally of about 30 animal rights activists on the intersection’s northeast corner. Opponents of the research contend that UCLA scientists ignore the suffering of primates and other animals used in the experiments.

Two men in monkey suits were among the animal rights demonstrators; one wore chains and climbed into a cage to simulate the captivity of the animals in UCLA’s laboratories.

The animal rights activists, who were marking an annual observance of World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week, eventually moved away, toward the campus, where they were expected to continue their rally and hear speeches.

The pro-research rally was organized by a new group, UCLA Pro-Test, which supports what it calls the humane use of animals in research aimed at finding cures for human diseases. The group is also protesting a series of unsolved arsons and vandalism at UC faculty homes and vehicles over the past three years.

Among likely speakers at the pro-research event is UCLA neuro-scientist J. David Jentsch, whose car was set ablaze and destroyed last month and who then organized the Pro-Test group. Jentsch uses monkeys in his research on schizophrenia and drug addiction, and although he kills some for postmortem exams, he says the animals do not suffer.

The FBI announced today that the reward offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible in the attack against Jentsch had been increased to $75,000.

-- Larry Gordon


UCLA braces for competing rallies on animal research