About 300 animal rights activists, bearing placards and chanting "stop the torture now," marched through Westwood and onto the UCLA campus Sunday to protest the use of animals for scientific research.
Members of more than a dozen animal rights organizations joined in the rally, which organizers said was held to commemorate "World Week for Laboratory Animals."
"We want people to be aware of the atrocities that are taking place in labs around the country," Lucy Shelton, Los Angeles chapter coordinator of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said. "It's cruel, crude, unreliable, unethical and an old habit that's become a big business for a lot of researchers."
Other Methods Cited
Activists contend the use of animals for experimentation is unnecessary because other research methods--such as computer modeling or the use of tissue cultures--can be substituted. About 70 million animals are used for experimentation each year, they said.
Researchers, however, maintain that scientific advancement requires the use of laboratory animals.
"More medical advances are made from fundamental research than applied, or 'bedside,' research," Dr. Glen Langer, director of cardiovascular research at UCLA Medical Center, said.
Chris Christman, a spokeswoman for the California Biomedical Research Assn., agreed:
"The essential issue is that the major medical advances made have come because of animal studies."
Arena for Speeches
After marching up Westwood Boulevard and through the main gates to the UCLA campus, the activists gathered in a grassy square to listen to speeches. Several speakers compared the use of laboratory animals to the extermination of Jews during World War II.
Others commended the efforts of the Animal Liberation Front, a shadowy group that has carried out several raids on research facilities to take laboratory animals. On April 20, members of the group broke into research laboratories at the University of California, Riverside, taking about 260 animals.