Stop Animal Exploitation Now (S.A.E.N.) members organize to protest Cal Tech animal research at the Pasadena campus Oct. 15, 2008.  (Staff photo by Leo
Stop Animal Exploitation Now (S.A.E.N.) members organize to protest Cal Tech animal research at the Pasadena campus Oct. 15, 2008. (Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb)

• Photo Gallery: Animal rights group protest

PASADENA - Animal rights activists Monday gathered in front of the Caltech campus to protest primate research at the institute.

Organized by animal rights groups Stop Animal Exploitation Now and Last Chance for Animals, as part of "National Primate Liberation Week," the protestors focused their demonstration largely on Richard Andersen, the James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience at Caltech, who has received federal grant money to do research into the visual nervous systems of monkeys.

"Hey Andersen, what do you say? How many animals did you kill today?" and "Tax dollars down the drain! Vivisection is to blame!" the protesters chanted.

After about an hour, the group of about a dozen demonstrators marched north on Wilson Avenue, with the intention of moving closer to Andersen's offices.

Protest spokesman Rick Corbett said primate experiments can include drilling metal screws into the heads of monkeys, forcing their eyelids to remain open, and depriving them of food and water to encourage certain responses. The National Eye Institute currently funds 75 grants for such studies, he added.

The activists distanced themselves from some of the more radical animal rights groups that advocate violence.

"We put most of our time into Freedom of Information requests and then getting information out," Stop Animal Exploitation Now volunteer Julia Mac-

Kenzie said.

Caltech spokesman Jon Weiner said, as a matter of policy, the institute does not comment on specific protests.

But a Caltech news release stated the institute is "committed to the humane treatment of laboratory animals and complies with all guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals provided by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

The statement also said Caltech's work with laboratory animals has led to better treatments for cancer patients, a better understanding of the link between influenza and schizophrenia, insight into nicotine addiction, and work on a vaccine that may one day help prevent HIV/AIDS.

The protesters were met with some hostility. One man made an obscene gesture from across the street. Another confronted them, urging them to "go away."

Motorist Fuhlin Hsin, meanwhile, saw the commotion as she was driving by and felt impelled to join the protest.

"I couldn't just drive by and do nothing," she said.

alfred.lee@sgvn.com

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