Our most energetic, lively discussion yet, while we all ate vegan pizza at Pizza Pi. We learned that the University of Washington’s Regional Primate Research Center (WRPRC) has more than one animal experimentation facility in Seattle, and even owns a breeding facility in Indonesia that captures monkeys from the wild, all at taxpayer expense. Their baby monkey research lab sits near Magnuson Park, and their primate virology lab faces the Olympic Sculpture Park. UW has been genetically engineering monkeys to be more susceptible to getting particular diseases for their experiments. We also made plans for building public awareness and media coverage of these abuses.
U.W.’s Washington Regional Primate Research Center (WRPRC) is located just across the street from the Olympic Sculpture Park downtown. It plays a major part in the torture and killing of primates every year. UW is the most federally-funded animal research facility in the country, receiving over $270 million last year from NIH. The university holds captive over 16,000 animals, including 3,000 primates.
At the Primate Center, UW researchers cut holes into macaque monkeys’ skulls. Recording cylinders are attached to their skulls, so that electrodes may be fed directly into the brain. The monkeys are then confined to restraint chairs and forced to perform behavioral experiments. Juice or water is often used as a reward in these experiments. To make the experiments more effective the primates are deprived of fluids except when they are performing the experiments.
These experiments have been going on for decades with no conclusive results. In addition, these projects are very similar to one another, potentially duplicating experimental procedures.
A teenage kid with puffy, half-closed bloodshot eyes ambles up to our table. He spies the free stickers we have out.
“‘Whoa, wha–? Milk’s got pus in it? For real? But doesn’t milk taste, like, SO GOOD, dude? Heh heh, I don’t even CARE if it’s got pus in it, yo!”
The rest of his friends crowd around, looking at our literature. One guy takes a look at Bailee and me, then says, “But what do you do for protein? Is it really a myth that you can’t get enough protein if you don’t eat meat? I mean, you both look pretty healthy and everything.”
So that’s an opening to talk about how it’s really possible to care about animal suffering AND be happy and healthy at the same time. For these kids, maybe they’ve always thought they couldn’t do anything to help the tortured animals who die for their food. And maybe they’ve never met vegans who were happy to answer their questions about how they go about leaving factory farming behind.
Lots of people helped out at the NARN table at Hempfest. Rachel (above), Mark (left), Bryan (below), Patty, Carrie, Claudine, Rabbit, Andy, Jason, Andre, Bailee, and David handed out over a thousand Why Vegan? pamphlets. It was a real success in spreading the cruelty-free lifestyle message.
We shared a blustery day with the pigs, dogs, cats, and llama at Pigs Peace Sanctuary.
Little baby piglet Emma Sue, who was saved from being a factory farmed pig, is growing bigger by the day, galloping around and making barking noises. Maybe it’s because she and pug dog Tibbet have taken to each other like Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, running around the sanctuary creating mischief.
Maria, Emma, and I cleared out old straw from the barn, while Margaret and Jason scooped up poop in the fields. After a huge country potluck provided by Judy, she led us on a walk through the forest, with all the dogs in tow, to the sanctuary’s two cabins, and we took turns riding the zip line. All the dogs took a splash in the pigs’ hidden forest pond. I can’t wait to go back there.
The Block Party was crammed with hipster kids in funked-out punker clothes, the girls Pat Benatar look-alikes and the guys cracking sardonic jokes to look cool and sophisticated for their friends. I’ve never seen so many aviator sunglasses in my life. New volunteer Fernando (photo below) from the Seattle Animal Rights Meetup and NARN members Jenn, Anna and David were rockin the scene on Broadway & Pine, handing out Veg Restaurant Guides to concert-goers. There were less “I like meat!” comments this time, and these primarily came from the girls for some reason.
Mostly what I heard were things like “SWEET! I totally NEED one of these!” which always makes ya feel good to be out there spreading the good news about a cruelty-free lifestyle. There were also a few surprised looks, but I think that’s because people didn’t see a connection between a music fest and veg restaurant guides. That’s alright–we still gave out a ton of ‘em. And I didn’t spot a single pamphlet thrown on the ground. Kids were folding them into the back pockets of their tight jeans, or even standing in line looking through the Why Vegan? pamphlets and lamenting the sad state of pigs in cages. It was a good day to be out there flyin’ the flag for animals.
We hosted Nancy Farnam from Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, who told us the history of the elephants’ imprisonment and the need for their release to the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee.
12 people came out Chaco Canyon for this Animal Rights Meetup, including Elizabeth, Bryan, David, Sri, Hol and her family, Brandon, and Rachel. As Elizabeth said afterward, “The right thing to do is obvious. That doesn’t mean it will be done.”
We also addressed the following questions:
♣Zoo Curator Nancy Hawkes says zoo animals are “ambassadors for what is going on in the wild and without them, out of sight out of mind. People will not care about them as much as they will if they have that kind of one-on-one experience that we can provide here.” Do you agree?
♥Is it impossible to tell whether elephants are happy in zoos? In the wild, elephants also face difficult circumstances, such as destruction of their habitat and diminishing numbers. Are zoos simply giving animals the best life they can?
♦What does viewing animals in zoos teach people about our relationship to wild animals?
♣Are zoos primarily for people’s entertainment, or do they promote conservation by preserving habitat and protecting endangered animals?
♥What is the difference between zoos and animal sanctuaries?
*Recommended reading/listening: KUOW’s “Woodland Park Zoo and Its Critics Debate What is Best for the Elephants”
The Seattle Center was packed with moving masses of people carrying plates of food to and fro. New volunteer Katrina from the Animal Rights Meetup came out and rocked the party with her down-pat hospitality skills, handing out Veg Restaurant Guides and Even If You Like Meat pamphlets like a natural. Rachel got a spot on the other side of the EMP, and I threw myself into the middle of the crowd deep inside the festival near the “REPENT, YOU SINNERS!” folks.
I heard more “I LIKE MEAT!” comments from passersby than usual, but to me this indicates something interesting. If someone finds a free vegetarian restaurant guide threatening enough that they feel compelled to defend their eating style with a shout like that, are they truly confident about their meat eating? Or are they announcing to all around that their only reason for continuing to participate in animal cruelty, environmental destruction, and courtship with health problems is the fairly trivial reason that they “like meat”?
Over 50 animal activists and Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants stood outside on a sunny Friday afternoon to be a presence for the elephants at the same time as the zoo’s Jungle Party their largest fundraiser of the year. We asked donors not to donate to the zoo until the elephants are freed to the 2,700 acre Elephant Sanctuary. As Elizabeth said, “It was an opportunity to make others think about thier actions without being too in-your-face. I hope we made some of the big money contributors think!”
What a great chance to get the truth out about these elephants’ lives behind bars, so far away from their original homes. Such great people showed up to stand up for these elephants.
Elephants Chai, Bamboo, and Watoto spend 18 hours per day locked in a 18′ X 23′ room. But in the wild, the planet’s largest land mammal normally needs to walk 10 – 30 miles a day for their physical and mental health. Captive elephants tend to live about half their natural lifespan in zoos. Chai paces on her front legs, Watoto has arthritis, and Bamboo bobs her head—evidence of captivity-induced stress and suffering.
My name is David, and I’m a new NARN Board member. I’m interested in outreaching people who want to activate the compassionate nature within them and do something effective to alleviate the institutionalized exploitation of animals. From my training as a social worker, I believe supporting people who have chosen a vegan way of life fosters a sense of community, and thereby encourages a blossoming of enthusiasm for animal rights activism. I know that this has been the case for my own development as an activist. It can be pretty intimidating to jump right into activism, especially if you are a new vegan struggling in isolation within a meat-eating society. My thrust within NARN is to provide people a way of turning compassion into action for suffering animals.
I’ve organized a new Seattle Animal Rights Meetup. It’s a group where animal rights activists & vegans can meet each other, exchange ideas, and learn how to end animal cruelty. If being vegan or animal rights is new to you, come learn what it’s all about and meet new compassionate friends! We get together monthly at a delicious vegan restaurant to discuss animal rights philosophy, activism, and current events. Everyone is welcome!
And the first discussion was great! Some good people who are brand new to the animal rights scene came out for delicious vegan food and compelling discussion, and we all made new compassionate friends along the way. 10 people, including Natalie, Elizabeth, Amber, Bryan, and Mark came. As Elizabeth said, “It was a relief to be surrounded by a group of people who understand my beliefs.” And Natalie said, “Welcoming, open people attended. Respectful sharing and conversation took place.” We tackled these questions:
♦ What can we do in a meat-eating society to alleviate the suffering of animals? What kinds of activism are most effective?
♥ When we say “animal rights,” what exactly do we mean? What’s the ultimate goal? Total abolition of all animal exploitation, or more humane slaughter?
♣ How do you personally keep from resenting the meat-eaters you know? How do you explain your stance against animal cruelty to friends and family?
On March 8, 2008, we all came out at lunchtime to bring attention to the atrocities the University of Washington carries out on captive monkeys.
Yep, that’s it.