10+ Million Reasons to Take Action this Animal Advocacy Day!

The Rise for Animals Team, April 30, 2024

It’s National Animal Advocacy Day, and nonhuman primates trapped in government and government-funded labs need all of us to take action for them today – because no sooner had Congress denied the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) request for an additional $30 million for the breeding and brutalization of nonhuman primates, than the NIH made a new request. 

That’s right: the NIH has asked Congress to allocate, in the 2025 federal budget, an additional 10 million of our taxpayer dollars for primate breeding and experimentation. 

$10 million does not seem hugely significant when considered relative to the NIH’s current budget of $47+ billion, over half of which is expected to support animal research. 

But it is.

Indeed, every single dollar matters because, as one expert explains, financial interests drive the animal experimentation industry: 

Money drives education. Money drives research. Money drives industry. Money drives the media. Hence, money is the reason that animal experimentation exists

As the largest funder of animal research worldwide, the NIH actively perpetuates the ethically and scientifically bankrupt animal research industry, generally, and the primate research sector, specifically. 

The NIH has been directly and principally invested in primate research since at least the 1960s, having established and continuing to fund seven National Primate Research Centers that have subjected nonhuman primates to every kind of suffering. Indeed, already in the 1990s (almost 30 years ago!), commentators noted that “[t]here seems to be almost no medical condition that the primate centers haven’t explored with monkeys”:

Research has included investigations of AIDS, cancer, heart disease, development of artificial arteries, aging, spinal cord injury, leprosy, malaria, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, nutrition, infertility, in vitro fertilization, birth defects, and baldness. That is only a partial list, of course.

Experimentation was the focus of these centers at first, but, after export bans resulted from the animal research industry’s previous decimations of wild monkey populations (such as those macaques native to India, many of whom were trafficked for U.S. polio research), the National Primate Research Centers also became “breeding colonies”. 

It is for both of these unscrupulous endeavors – the vivisection and forced breeding of nonhuman primates – that the NIH is seeking additional financial support from us (the taxpayers).

Undoubtedly, the NIH will continue making these requests even as scientifically and ethically superior, non-animal research methodologies are increasingly pulled from the shadows, because its fundamental political and financial interests lie with the animal research industry, of which it is a leader. 

This tragically misplaced loyalty ties all the way back to the NIH’s inception, explaining why the NIH has always been and remains both (1) a huge proponent and defender of animal research, and (2) a fierce opponent of any animal protection effort. Indeed, at the same time that the NIH asks for more and more money for vivisection, it continues to earmark less than 1% of its budget to the development of (ethically and scientifically superior!) replacements for animal research. 

In this way, the NIH displays disregard for the wellbeing of either humans or animals, the latter being confirmed by animal researchers themselves

The NIH has been described as “indifferent to [] animals”, though the NIH’s track record makes clear that “indifferent” is the best-case scenario.

Consider, for example, this devastating illustration – recounted by a former animal researcher who joined the NIH in touring a primate laboratory:

One [primate] wasn’t even rocking anymore. She was just lying on the floor of her cage. When we walked in, the chimp lifted her head and looked up. It was like those children you see in Somalia, that blank look. They’re not there. And the vet said, ‘See she’s not screaming,” and he told the tech to take her out. ‘See, she’s just fine.’ They were holding her like a typewriter and she was just lying there . . . Afterward, driving away . . . the government officials began cheerfully remarking that they must be reassured by what they had seen. Clearly, the facility met NIH standards. 

We cannot force the NIH to behave ethically or meaningfully care for either human or other-than-human animals, but we can stop them from using our money to increase their victim toll.

Join us in honoring 2024’s National Animal Advocacy Day by asking your legislators to deny the NIH’s request for even more taxpayer money to harm nonhuman primates.

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