Two Arrested at Emory Protesting Chimpanzee Research

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(APN) ATLANTA — Two activists–Sarita Raturi and Julie Robertson–were arrested on Monday, May 21, 2012, blocking the entrance to Emory University, to bring attention to the plight of Wenka, a 58 year-old chimpanzee, who has been used as a research animal for nearly her entire life.

The activists blocked off the entrance for an hour and fifteen minutes.  About thirty protesters also protested at the Emory entrance.

“She’s been there for 58 years being researched on since childhood,” Robertson, an animal rights activist with Georgia Animal Rights and Protection (GARP), told Atlanta Progressive News.

“We’ve been trying to meet with Emory, sending letters… to discuss putting her in a sanctuary.  They don’t respond.  It’s been one year since we sent the first letter,” Robertson said.

“The least they could do at the end of her life is to release her to a sanctuary where she could have a little peace,” Robertson said.

“These sanctuaries, like Chimp Haven, specialize in taking research chimpanzees.  They work with them psychiatrically, physically.  Some [chimps] are terrified to step outside because they never have.  At least they rehabilitate them to a point where some sit and look out a window.  They have acres and acres and acres to roam,” she said.

“These people [Robertson said of Emory], their specialty is torturing them,” she said.

Wenka was taken away from her mother at birth and then spent seventeen months in total darkness as part of a vision deprivation experiment, according to Robertson.

Wenka was then adopted by a family as a pet, but at age three became too strong for the family to handle, so they returned her to the laboratory.

Over the years, Wenka has been used in research studies involving alcohol, oral contraceptives, and menopause.

“She was a breeding chimpanzee.  They take away the baby every single time for more research,” Robertson said, adding that Wenka has had six babies.

“Two animal rights protesters who hung a banner across the main entrance gate of the Emory campus and chained themselves to the banner, blocking access to the campus, were arrested for criminal trespass today.  This happened after they declined a request from Emory Police to remove themselves and the banner from the roadway,” Emory University said in a statement provided by Lisa Newburn, public affairs spokesperson for the Yerkes National Primary Research Center.

“Emory and the Yerkes Research Center are devoted to the care of Wenka, the oldest chimpanzee at Yerkes.  Wenka has been a key participant in the Center’s National Institute on Aging-funded grant to compare how humans, chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys age,” Emory said.

The knowledge Yerkes researchers are gaining from Wenka and other animals at the center is invaluable in helping humans live longer, more healthful lives.  Yerkes researchers will continue to build upon their solid foundation of scientific advancements, and the center will continue to provide experts to care for all of its animals,” Emory said.

(END/2012)

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