Countywide : Activists Protest UCI Animal Research


For the second time this year, animal rights activists on Tuesday staged a protest on the UC Irvine campus, where tens of thousands of animals--mostly rodents--are used annually for medical research designed to benefit humans.

There were no injuries or arrests stemming from the four-hour protest. University officials largely ignored the five activists, who were outnumbered by representatives from the news media.

The protesters, with the Animal Rights Direct Action Coalition--the same group that briefly occupied the UCI chancellor’s office in April--again criticized the university’s experiments, which they characterize as “the torture of animals.”


Activists claim the “unethical” practice does little to advance science but does serve to provide the university with millions of dollars in research grants.

“Everything they learn from those experiments can be done painlessly on humans,” said Richard McLellan, 50, an emergency room physician at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. “That kind of medical research has been a dead end for the past 100 years.”

Two of the protesters, who say animal and human lives are equally precious, blocked the entrance to Irvine Hall, where animal experiments are conducted. A brief shoving match occurred about 11:30 a.m. when a university employee refused to let the pair enter the building. The protesters said they wanted to air their views with Edward G. Jones, a UCI professor of anatomy and neurobiology who oversees much of the research with animals.

Jones could not be reached for comment.

University officials said the experiments continue to benefit human medical treatment. Of the 37,000 animals a year killed during such research, about 95% are rodents (mice, rats, hamsters and guinea pigs). The rest include dogs, cats, goats, monkeys and turtles.