An activist painted as a primate demonstrates UBC's electroconvulsive shock research.
UBC head of research indicates school to discuss current animal testing policy after activists stage provocative semi-nude live performance at Vancouver Art Gallery over the weekend
More than 50 activists from Stop UBC Animal Research and PETA staged a semi-nude live performance Sunday at the Vancouver Art Gallery to raise awareness of the animal testing occurring at UBC. Behind signs reading "UBC Laboratory - Public Keep Out," activists body-painted as animals were tested on by experimenters, as supporters held signs with slogans like "Please UBC - Just be open and tell us."
UBC conducts roughly 100,000 experiments a year on cats, mice, monkeys, pigs, rabbits and primates; that number is increasing every year, and nearly all of the experiments are conducted without public knowledge.
"I've discussed this with friends before," a passing observer remarked watching the scene, "but I doubt the protest will be effective."
The demonstration, the most colourful of a series of recent protests by Stop, was covered by CBC, City TV, Global, Shaw, The Province, Vancouver Sun and other news outlets.
Painted as a rabbit and mouse, two activists simulate the animal's perspective during experimentation.
One observer engaged in dialogue with a scrub-adorned activist, noting, "There must be something good about animal testing," to which the activist responded, "When results are public, people can measure for themselves how effective these tests are.”
Dr. John Hepburn, vice president of research at UBC, issued a response to the demonstration, describing it as a shock tactic and asserting that the activists are distributing misleading information that may incite violence against researchers. Hepburn claims that current federal laws are humane already, but also expressed for the first time that the increasing public interest in UBC's animal experimentation will provide the university with an important opportunity to discuss what is currently necessary for animal testing.
Activists draw attention to UBC's tests on cats, which have been publicly funded for the last 30 years.
One observer visiting from the U.S., where details of university animal experimentaion are posted online for public scrutiny, stopped to take pictures of the protest with his cell phone. His take on the protest: "Human beings are part of the animal family. Research can still be done, just in a different way."
Stop UBC Animal Research asserts that the results from animal testing can be achieved by technology and genetic research, but Hepburn claims that these methods are way off in the future.
Some activists questioned whether instilling various diseases into animals who are otherwise healthy is a valid method for gathering accurate medical information.
I'll note, even as I type this, my spell check wants to change "who" to "that" as the relative pronoun for animals—another question up for debate.
Michelle Kay is a citizen of the world. Aside from creative writing, she has an affinity for activism, concept art, film and choreography. Read one of Michelle's short stories here.