Britches (monkey)

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Britches after being removed from the laboratory by the Animal Liberation Front

Britches was the name given by researchers to a Stump-tailed Macaque monkey who was born into a breeding colony at the University of California, Riverside in March 1985. He was removed from his mother at birth and had his eyelids sewn shut as part of a three-year maternal- and sensory-deprivation study involving 24 infant monkeys.[1] The study was conducted by David H. Warren.[2]

Britches was removed from the laboratory, along with 700 other animals, when he was five weeks old during a raid on April 20, 1985 by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The ALF made a videotape[3] of their raid and of Britches' condition when they found him. As a result of the publicity when the video was released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and after condemnation of the experiments by scientists and the American Council of the Blind, eight of the 17 studies interrupted by the raid were not restarted, and the university stopped allowing baby monkeys' eyes to be sewn shut, according to reports filed by the university with the government.[4][5] Dr. Grant Mack, president of the American Council of the Blind, called the experiment "one of the most repugnant and ill-conceived boondoggles that I've heard about for a long time."[6]

Researchers at the university criticized the ALF, claiming activists had applied black mascara or paint to the monkey's eyelids to make the sutures look larger than they were, and that damage reported by an ALF veterinarian to the eyelids had, in fact, been caused by the veterinarian herself. The researchers also said that a box the ALF video showed attached to the monkey's head had been removed and reattached by the ALF.[7]

The study

The experiments were designed to study the behavioral and neural development of monkeys reared with a sensory substitution device. Five groups of four macaques were to be raised from birth to three months, and one group to six months, blinded while wearing a Trisensor Aid (TSA), an experimental version of a blind travel aid, the Sonicguide. Other control groups were to wear the device with normal vision, or wear a dummy device with no vision. At the end of the experiment, the monkeys were to be killed, and the visual, auditory and motor areas in their brains would be studied.[2]

Veterinarian reports

Allegedly as found by the ALF. The apparatus in the background was reported to have been supplied by the lab as a surrogate mother.

Activists say they found Britches alone in a cage with bandages around his eyes and a sonar device attached to his head that emitted a high-pitched screech every few minutes. He was clinging to a device, covered in towelling, that had two fake nipples attached, apparently intended to serve as a surrogate mother.

Veterinarian ophthalmologist Dr. Ned Buyukmihci of the University of California, Davis, and founder of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, examined Britches after he was removed from the lab. He stated that the sutures used were too large and that the monkey's eye pads were filthy. He said: "There is no possible justification for this sloppy, painful experiment."[3]

Bettina Flavioli, a veterinarian hired by the ALF, examined Britches and wrote a report on the day of his removal from the lab. According to Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the report read:

On this day, April 20, 1985, I have been called to administer an examination and follow-up care to an infant stumptail macaque, male, my guess approximately five weeks of age. Said infant allegedly liberated by the Animal Liberation Front from the UC-Riverside laboratory.

Attached to infant's head by means of bandage and tape is an apparatus of some sort with what appears to be some sort of electrical cord extending from it. It has been cut. Bilaterally are short lengths of tubing emerging from the bandage. Tape is in direct contact with the face and neck. Bandage lifted rostrally from right eye due to excessive moisture and right eye partially visible.

Beneath the bandages are two cotton pads, one for each eye ... Both pads are filthy and soaked with moisture. Bilaterally upper eyelids are sutured to lower eyelids. The sutures are grossly oversized for the purpose intended. Many of these sutures have torn through lid tissue resulting in multiple lacerations of the lids. There is an open space between upper and lower lids of both eyes of about one quarter inch, and sutures are contacting corneal tissue resulting in excessive tearing ...

Infant demonstrates photophobia. Penis of infant is edematous and inflamed. There are smegma accumulations. Generalized muscle development poor. Skin dry. Body odor foul.[3]

After the raid

After having his stitches removed

When he was five months old, Britches was flown to a sanctuary in Mexico and given to an elderly female macaque who had already raised several orphans.[3]

He even was dedicated a song by a Spanish rock band called Lyvon. The song was called "Cry Britches" (Llora Britches), and while the Lyric,composed by a poet called Ángel Padilla spoke about love and sadness betwen animals (including human animals), the videoclip of the song is a clear honoring to the Animal Liberation Front. In this video we can notice the stablished similarity between the active fight against the animal mistreat in all its ways and the animal liberation itself. That is to say: The video inserts images of free animals and the active fight that the Animal Liberation Front keeps. While the song is an open ode to Britches, the video shows that the fact is that it is an honoring to the ALF.

See also


  1. Newkirk, Ingrid. Free the Animals, Lantern Books, 2000, pp. 271-294.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Abstract: Trisenor rearing with infant macaques", Crisp.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "The Story of Britches": Videotape of the Animal Liberation Front raid in which Britches was removed from the University of California, Riverside.
  4. Newkirk, Ingrid. Free the Animals, Lantern Books, 2000, p. 294.
  5. Best, Steven & Nocella, Anthony J. Terrorist or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals. Lantern Books, 2004, p. 22.
  6. Newkirk, Ingrid. Free the Animals, Lantern Books, 2000, p. 288.
  7. Newkirk, Ingrid. Free the Animals, Lantern Books, 2000, p. 289.

External links