30 DAYS FOR LABORATORY ANIMALS is a month-long campaign happening in New Orleans to draw attention to the atrocities of animal testing, and to remember those creatures who suffer each and every day inside research labs.
Starting on Monday, November 29th all the way to December 29th, a vigil will be held in front of the Hutchinson Memorial Building, within the Tulane Health Sciences Center at 1430 Tulane Avenue (between LaSalle & Loyola Ave, in the CBD), every afternoon from 11am until 3pm. This is in protest of the horrific experiments carried out on rats, mice, dogs, cats, pigs, primates, rabbits, ferrets and others inside this building every day; and as a remembrance for the lives stolen by the scientific fraud known as vivisection. Every single afternoon for an entire month these animals — and the unique, individual lives they represent — will be honored and spoken up for.
Tulane University, although not altogether unique in its exploitation of the animal kingdom (just next door is LSU’s alcohol and drug animal research center), was specifically chosen for its prolific expanse of medical research facilities across southeastern Louisiana. In its downtown center alone, unimaginable horrors go on in the pursuit of data. Dr. Levy infects cats and mice with leukemia, and induces immunodeficiencies in macaque monkeys. Dr. Bruce Bunnell collects neural stems from the brains of primates. Gillbert Morris exposes mice to asbestos and “genotoxic” substances. Tulane’s School of Medicine uses live pigs in a trauma training course. Across town, on its Uptown campus, similar experiments are done. Tulane also operates the enormous Tulane Regional Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana (one of the largest primate colonies in the country and which is still in the process of expansion), where primates are infected with viruses like AIDS, malaria, and leukemia.
Throughout history, one can see individual acts of resistance, however seemingly futile and inconsequential, having an extraordinary impact in inspiring widespread social change. From the Liberian women who sat by the roadside each day dressed in white to protest their violent government, to the lunch counter sit-ins and bus boycotts of the Civil Rights movement — what begins with one or a few humble individuals can go on to build a culture of resistance.
There is a famous tale about a Bosnian cellist named Vedran Smailovic. In April of 1992, Serb forces besieged the city of Sarajevo in what was one of the longest sieges of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. It is estimated that 100,000 people died, and an additional 56,000 (many of whom were children) were wounded from the constant sniper firings and bombings of the city. Among the casualties were a group of 22 individuals who were struck by a bomb while waiting in a line for bread. As the story goes, Smailovic, a cellist for the Sarajevo opera before the siege, began playing classical pieces on his cello in the street each day in honor each of his 22 neighbors who had perished. Amidst the ruins of his destroyed city, and at great risk of losing his own life in the attacks, the lone cellist played. And with this simple gesture, he sent a message to fellow citizens that he refused to submit his humanity to the terror heaped upon them; he refused to accept the unpardonable and inescapable atrocities that had come to consume Sarajevo’s reality.
30 Days for Laboratory Animals, then, is one person’s response to the trauma of living in a world where vivisection exists — a gesture of defiance against an exploitation industry that masquerades itself as science, torturing hundreds of thousands of animals a year for profit. It is an attempt to transform a public sidewalk, blind and unfeeling to the injustice around it, into a radicalized space for awareness and activism. It is a statement to the world and to those perpetrators who commit these acts of violence with impunity for their paychecks that animal beings do not deserve to live lives of confinement, torment, and pain — least of all in the name of dubious experiments based more on an influx of grant funding to fatten pockets than on any actual scientific insight.
There must come a point at which we as individuals say no to injustice, where we use our voices and bodies to fight back against those hurting the ones we love — no mater how hopeless the situation may seem. We must take guidance from the mother grizzly who charges the train which destroyed her child; for in the face of such tragedy, doing anything less — and most especially, doing nothing at all — implies an incapacity to love, or to feel. It can also imply complicity. It matters less what caliber of action we each take; it only matters that we act. The power structures on this planet thrive on making us feel isolated and powerless, and one can see how internalized this notion is when bystanders criticize protestors — “You’re not going to change anything,” they say. We are deluded into believing we can do nothing to change the world around us, so we do not act; and because we do not act, nothing changes. It is a self-perpetuating cycle. But every act of resistance, like a small wrench thrown into the cogs of a seemingly all-powerful machine, will — if we each throw our own wrenches into the gears — eventually cause the machine to sputter and grind to a halt. Only, first, we must act. Remember: No one person can do everything. But everyone can do something.
This is what 30 Days For Laboratory Animals represents.