Treatment of Monkeys Constitutes Cruelty

Letter to the Editors

To the editors:

By quibbling over the size of the cage or the number of “enrichments” provided to captive primates, animal experimenters at Harvard Medical School (HMS) distract attention away from their inability to justify actions that, if conducted outside of the laboratory, would constitute animal cruelty (News, “Harvard Said to Mistreat Its Monkeys,” Nov. 6). As Alice Walker said, “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites, or women created for men.” Because there is no rational basis for ignoring the interests of animals, experimenters must show that the possible benefits of their specific experiments outweigh the certain harm to the animals they exploit—a task rarely undertaken.

Additionally, if HMS wishes to allay the fears of those concerned about its treatment of primates, it could offer tours of the facilities, or at the very least, videotapes and photographs of the primates undergoing experiments. If HMS treats its primates so well, it should be proud to make such documentation publicly available; instead they hide 25 miles from campus behind locked doors.

Holly S. Lewis

Somerville, Mass.

Nov. 15, 2003

The writer is a second-year student at Harvard Law School and president of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.