Medical researchers receive threats from animal rights activists
October 29, 1999
From Correspondent Don Knapp
DAVIS, California (CNN) -- A group of animal rights activists have sent threatening letters laced with razor blades to researchers at universities across the United States, demanding an end to experimentation on animals.
More than 80 researchers have been listed on a Web page as potential victims of violence if they don't release their laboratory animals by the autumn of 2000.
Among the targets are researchers at the University of California-Davis, which has one of the largest primate research populations in the United States. For more than a decade, animal rights activists have protested and allegedly torched and vandalized labs at the university.
"Our belief is that this is an escalation of what has been an ongoing series of protests here," says Calvin Handy of the UC Police, which is offering protection to researchers and their families.
"These people are dedicated scientists," says Dr. Jeffrey Roberts of the UC-Davis Primate Center, noting that their research involves such diseases as AIDS, cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer's. "That's their dedication, doing research using non-human primates, and here these people are receiving terrorist threats."
Even a leading animal rights activist in San Francisco, veterinarian Elliot Katz, has denounced the threats, although he says the cruelty of animal research is what is driving the perpetrators.
"When you see how terribly abusive the treatment is toward baby monkeys -- when they're separated from the mother and holes are drilled into their brains or they're driven insane -- it's really horrible. And it's enough, certainly, to drive any person over the edge," he says.
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