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Issue 16
MRC Baboons
Vet Council Continues to obfuscate
Local researchers question animal models
Does Dove give a Rats's *** ?
Proposed Code a 'Vivisector's Charter'
Who'll move the cheese ?
Enchantrix - now country-wide distribution
Vivisection retards medical progress
The compassionate Consumer
Dr Vernon's Casebook
Science Cafe
Hall of Fame
Top Quotes

ARCHIVE : Issue Five


It behoves us to think of animals as sentient individuals rather than as property and so in past issues, acting on an anonymous tip-off we traced the tortured existence of Jackie the Chimp who, torn from the wild to be trained for an 'act' by Boswell Wilkie Circus, was subsequently donated to the Johannesburg Zoo where he became so stressed that he was kept on a wide range of sedatives and other mind altering drugs. In 1984 he was relocated to the Roodeplaat Research Laboratories (RRL), the infamous front for the previous government's Biological and Chemical Warfare programme. This transfer was negotiated by Prof. Meltzer of the faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort and Dr. Daniel Goosen, the first Managing Director of the RRL. The Director of the Johannesburg Zoo at the time was Willie Labuschagne. Jackie died in 1990, allegedly from 'pneumonia' and his body was transferred to Biocon, a private contract laboratory, hurriedly established when the RRL was closed down. (The Directors of Biocon, Stiaan Wandrag and Brian Davies, were formerly of the RRL where the Apartheid government carried out its biological and chemical warfare experiments). The bizarre thing was that eight years later Jackie's body, instead of being incinerated, remained in a freezer at Biocon. Now read on...…. SAAV received information that after our exposé of the Jackie saga (Snout 2) he was hurriedly transferred, deboned, to the Transvaal museum in Pretoria. . When we telephoned Duncan MacFadden , Collections Manager of the mammals department at the museum, he remembered Jackie quite well and referred us to their department of archeo-zoology where the lady in question, in a most pleasant and helpful manner, said she would look up Jackie's file and ring us back. Which she did ten minutes later, only this time the formerly open and pleasantly helpful lady murmured through zipped mouth that she was unable to give us any information. You see, Jackie's card had been 'flagged'. Any queries in this matter had to be addressed to Dr. Daan Goosen, former Roodeplaat director and the person who first negotiated Jackie's transfer from the Johannesburg Zoo. A subsequent 'phone call to Duncan McFadden a few days later also reflected a total change of attitude. He now found it difficult to recall Jackie and referred us to Dr. Ina Plug of their department of archeo-zoology. We duly set up an appointment with her. Dr. Plug was helpful indeed and we could not but feel that she did not know much about Jackie's background. All she knew was that they had received from Biocon a deboned skeleton, purporting to be that of Jackie. It appeared to us that her interest was only in dating and cataloguing the bones which were described in the file as that of an ageing female chimp. Jackie had been an ageing male and when we queried this discrepancy we were informed that that had been a 'typing error. ' The sadness set in when we asked to see Jackie and were presented with a box of bones into which the skeleton had been dissected - all that remained of the tortured life of this voiceless primate, genetically so close to humans. A pathetic memorial indeed to a life of abuse and torture. And the questions remain. Was this indeed the skeleton of Jackie? If so, why had he been deboned before being transferred to the museum? After all the latter had the capability of performing this task. Why had he been preserved in a freezer all those years until SAAV's exposé? Most of all, why did queries have to be referred to an ex-Roodeplaat director? We believe that Dr. Ina Plug was being honest with us. But the questions remain. Were we perhaps referred to her exactly because she had no knowledge of Jackie's dark background ? Jackie's story has been individualised, but there are millions of other voiceless animals- primates, dogs, cats, rats and mice who have suffered equally, who were born in vain, tortured and died in vain without any questions being asked about their fate. And this is what SAAV is fighting.


When Wouter Basson, mastermind of SA's Biological and Chemical Warfare programme, made his first appearance at the Pretoria High Court on a long list of charges, he managed to side-step the press and SAAV who were waiting for him to pass through the main entrance. Instead, he made his way to the court room through a back alley. So SAAV had no alternative but to present him, in open court, with the SAAV 1999 Vivisector of the Year Award certificate. His immediate reaction was to protest in weak voice: "This is not for me" whilst trying to hand it back, but changed his mind at the insistence of the activist in question.


The latest scandal to hit the Onderstepoort Veterinary Faculty is the fact that for a period of five years, carcasses of dogs, cats and horses who had died there had been, instead of incinerated, turned into dog food as a cost saving exercise. This came as a shock to unsuspecting pet owners who had naturally assumed that the fees they had paid Onderstepoort to have the remains of their beloved pets disposed of included their cremation. However, the owners have no legal recourse because the 'small print" on the indemnity forms pet owners sign upon admitting their furry friends to the world renowned faculty do not stipulate disposal methods. The scandal also came as a shock to the SPCA who had in the past supplied Onderstepoort with carcasses for their students to dissect. SPCA management has now insisted upon a written contract before agreeing to resume the practice. This whole sordid issue only came to light when the Bethal-based company they were giving the carcasses to closed down and the faculty suddenly had to find another way to get rid of animal bodies. According to Onderstepoort this practice has now been discontinued. But this was cold comfort indeed for those owners who were traumatised on learning of the fate of their beloved companions. Quite apart from the ethics of the matter, according to the Department of Agriculture it was illegal to turn dog carcasses into dog food. Indeed, there was a rule that nothing that was not fit for human consumption was allowed to be put into animal feed. Most disconcerting of all was that the Head of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Prof. Brough Coughbrough, was at the time Chair of the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC). Professor Nick Kriek, who reported to him at Onderstepoort, is currently still a committee member of the Council. Both have served on the veterinary faculty's ethics committee. The Council, which initially met the news with mute silence, has finally decided not to take action against any of their members involved in the scandal. Neither a word of sympathy nor of condemnation has been forthcoming from this supposed watchdog of veterinary ethics. We have in past issues called for a renewal of the SAVC when it failed to remove apartheid government vivisector André Irnmelman from their committee. Dr. Immelman finally did not make himself available for re-election to the Council's committee this year, but he is still allowed to practice as a veterinary surgeon.


 Under the heading 'Top Job for City Zoo Director' the Pretoria News and SAPA reported that Pretoria Zoo Director Willie Labuschagne was the new president of the World Zoo Qrganisation (WZO). The Pretoria Zoo said in a statement that he was elected to the position at the annual conference of the WZO held in Pretoria. Willie Labuschagne was Director at the Johannesburg Zoo when the Chimpanzee Jackie was handed over to the SADF's front company Roodeplaat Research Laboratories. (See whatever happened to Jackie?)

News Update BLOEMFONTEIN SPCA SUPPLIES PETS TO RESEARCH INSTITUTION All hell broke loose in the land of BROC (Braaivleis, Rugby, Oranjejag and Crackers up dogs' anuses) when it came to light that the Bloemfontein SPCA was supplying researchers at the University of the Free State with pets for experiments. Some of these animals were kept at the 'non existent' animal research centre of the University. These tests were allegedly done over a period of two years to test products against ticks, fleas and worms. For this the Bloemfonten SPCA are reported to have received thousands of rands. This is not the first time a branch of the SPCA has been implicated in the supply of pets to research institutions and we are therefore encouraged by the fact that the National Council of the SPCA's not only called for a disciplinary hearing against the employees concerned but also declared that it was a rule of the National Council that no animals were to be supplied to any institution for experimental purposes.


 The maltreatment of the Tuli elephants at the hands of their carers and trainers has highlighted the need for an urgent review of the animal anti-cruelty legislation. The DP stated that they would be prioritising this review when parliament re-opened in August. The DP does not believe that South Afnca's anti-cruelty laws adequately protect animals in captivity and would like to see more attention given to the training and handling of captive animals. At the same time, they say, we need to ask ourselves whether the time has come to possibly consider more comprehensive animal rights legislation.


 In 1996 SAAV rescued, from the National Centre for Occupational Health, eight wild caught baboons who had been incarcerated in small cages, some of them for 10 years. The experiments which had been conducted on them, studying the effects of asbestos poisoning, were generally considered to have been of no value as the effects of asbestos poisoning had already been well known. It was the first time laboratory animals in South Africa had been handed over to an institution for rehabilitation and was a triumph for SAAV'S negotiating skills. This saw the start of SAAV's Baboon Buddy project and funds were raised to house the animals at Rita Miljo's rehabilitation centre CARE in Phalaborwa. At last these animals, who had suffered so much, were able to feel the sun on their faces again. Even though they could no longer be released back into the wild, they would be able to live out the rest of their lives in enclosures where they would be able to communicate with each other and move about without fear. Whilst in the lab, Dibs had been the most stressed male. He used to have anxiety attacks where he had muscular fits, but when he got to CARE that stopped. Unfortunately, Dibs has now passed away but we find consolation in the fact that the last three years of his life were relatively happy. This is an example of another life unnecessarily wasted by the vivisectors who were responsible for the cruelty of his capture when he was torn away from his family in the wild, his trauma in the labs and the fact that he could never lead a normal baboon life.


 New Zealand's parliament has created a world first by putting specific protection for non-human homonids, also known as great apes, into legislation. In passing its new Animal Welfare Act on Thursday, the New Zealand Parliament has prohibited the use of all great apes in research, testing, or teaching "unless such use is in the best interests of the non-human homonid" or its species. There are five great ape species: chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutangs and humans and all are in the same genetic family. "This requirement recognizes the advanced cognitive and emotional capacity of great apes", said New Zealand's Minister for Food and Fibre, John Luxton, who was responsible for the passage of the bill through Parliament. Such recognition is based on scientific evidence that the non­human great apes share not only our genes but also basic human mental traits, such as self-awareness, intelligence and other forms of mental insight, complex communications and social systems and even the ability to master some human language skills. "New Zealand is the first country in the world to legislate in this way", said Mr. Luxton. The Great Ape Project-International has hailed the groundbreaking legislation as part of the trend toward recognizing the complex mental, social and individual realities of other animals' lives. That trend is also evident in the explosion of interest shown by U.S. law schools in the status of other animals, most recently confirmed by Harvard University's decision to offer an animal law course in the Spring of 2000. "Ultimately, GAP would like to see the non-human great apes accorded standing in legal systems throughout the world", said the organisation's vice-president, Paul Waldau. "This would permit them to be protected by rights to life, liberty and freedom from torture. Additionally, we'd like to have the United Nations provide realistic recognition and protections." The numbers of non-human great apes have plummeted this century, as free-living populations have increasingly fallen victim to the commercial bush meat trade and deforestation. More than 3000 individuals are held in captivity around the world. All of the non-human great ape species are listed as threatened.



 The science Café which was established at Roodeplaat in the interests of Better Science was all agog. 'I don't believe it!' twittered the Canary. 'Oh, it's true,' chirped the little bird who had just flown in with the latest news. Wouter Basson is a very modest little man. He declined his award. 'Preposterous,' deliberated the Erudite Owl. 'One simply does not look a gift horse in the mouth.' 'One does with a hippopotamus,' said the Duiker, 'Horses do not keep their mouths open long enough.' 'Well, perhaps they are worried Knobel will put his foot in it,' said Vulture No. I, 'or Immelman.' 'Yes,' hesitated the sparrow, 'and then they would definitely end up at the Transvaal museum. 'That would be better than ending up at Bloemfontein University with Professor Leon…….' the Sparrow's chirping trailed away' under Vulture No. 2's withering stare. 'Or worse still at the Onderstepoort dog food manufacturers,' added the little bird. 'And Immelman and Knobel are going to be State Witnesses at Basson's trial,' continued the little bird. 'Serves him right,' said the Canary. 'Who'?' asked Sparrow. 'The state prosecutor, of course,' answered the Canary. Well,' deliberated the Erudite Owl, 'Jrnmelman should not mind going to jail as long as it's according to accepted International Standards. The Veterinary Council said so.' 'I don't know what the world is coming to,' continued the Canary, 'I look forward to the day when there will be a chicken in every pot,...' 'You mean a Dominee on every ethics committee,' corrected the Sparrow. I.. 


Unlike the South African Veterinary Council who refused to act against one of its members, Andre Jmmelman, who was involved in warfare experiments on animals, the Medical and Dental Professional Board (MDPB) overturned the election of Dr. Knobel as Chairman of one of its three preliminary committees of inquiry after studying the findings of the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission (TRC) special investigation into South Africa's chemical and biological warfare programme of which Knobcl, as surgeon general, was project manager. Members of the Board pointed to the fact that the Board's image had been badly damaged by a political history where appropriate action to protect political victims like Steve Biko was sadly lacking. Professor Max Price said: To restore the public's confidence in the Board, the preliminary committees need to be irreproachable. We cannot have people about whom there are doubts." The TRC found that the Surgeon General knew of the production of murder weapons (for the elimination of enemies of the State) but refused to address the concerns that were raised with him on the grounds that they did not fall under his authority. Knobel also, under oath, supported Immelman's affidavit to the S.A. Veterinary Council that 'Roodeplaat had not been a front company for the SADF.' Says Knobel, who recently underwent a triple bypass operation and has now retired from the military: "l grew up in a home where my father, a mission doctor in the old Nyasaland (now Malawi) believed your word was your honour. I am a practising Christian. I believe in the old Calvinistic principles.'

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