Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

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The Independent Online

Last Thursday found me squeezed into a tiny cage with animal welfare campaigner Meg Mathews and chanteuse Maria Daines, who wrote "Monkey in a Cage", the fantastic song that's top of the indie charts and is storming up the main charts. We were raising awareness for Primate Day on 1 September. Horrifically, monkeys and apes are still used in animal experiments despite doctors, scientists, researchers and 200 worldwide welfare groups supporting a ban.

Used to Green Party photo-calls, when often no one turns up at all, it came as a shock to be confronted by about 20 snappers, lured by Meg Mathews who, as the ex-wife of Noel Gallagher of Oasis, is a bona fide celeb, and very nice too.

The snapping went on for some time. We were photographed getting into the cage, climbing out of it, on top of it, under it and pushing it while smiling, looking sad and banging on the bars. Eventually we could climb out and go home, but many animals are not so lucky.

Humans are only locked up for life when they have committed heinous crimes. This doesn't apply to animals. The dolphins stolen from the oceans and put in tiny oceanariums to do stupid tricks for stupid spectators; the wild birds netted and caged; the thousands of monkeys captured in jungles and caged – they have committed no crime, yet must suffer a life of painful confinement.

The campaigners Animal Defenders do a great job drawing attention to the plight of monkeys locked up in dreadful conditions. It's not a fashionable cause, and we'd prefer not to think about it, but we must.

We don't need to capture wild primates and then destroy them in labs. While there are similarities between us and primates, there are key biological differences that make primate research unreliable. The TGN1412 drug trial caused horrific side-effects to human volunteers, although monkeys force-fed a dosage 500 times stronger had no side effects.

If you want to end to primate experiments, email your MEP today and ask them to support the motion being considered by the European Parliament for a ban on primate testing (tomorrow is declaration day for the motion). Already, 293 MEPs have signed up. Only 93 more signatures are needed! You can get your MEP's name and email at www.ad-international.org.

Gandhi said: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated." Let's prove that and end this cruelty now.



See www.ad-international.org for information about Animal Defenders International and a download of "Monkey in a Cage"

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