Photo: © NJ Wight
Newton is a very dear little Rhesus Macaque. He came to us in 2004 when he was just 4 years old. His fate was a grim one. He had been purchased by a Canadian University for their animal research labs.
Many Universities in Canada, the United States and around the world continue to use primates for invasive bio medical research, with little regard for the individual. Killing them when they don’t meet the standards of the study, or disposing (ship them to another facility) of those who don’t fit the protocols for the study and those who simply are not the right age for the study in question.
This was to be the fate for this dear fellow. Newton was to be used in eye research. Most likely the study would involve restraining devices, and a number of extremely unpleasant or unimaginable things. One can imagine the procedures would be terrifying and invasive. None of us could tolerate our eyes being touched, dilated and subjected to a wide range of tortures…, yet it considered totally acceptable to do this to little monkeys, in the name of research.
Monkeys are kept with collars around their necks, so they can pulled from their cages with long poles that hook into the collars or yanked out with nooses around their necks…then the handlers can grab the monkeys with their hands, while the monkeys dangle in the air choking, until the handler can safely access the monkey without being bitten… Then their arms are pulled behind their backs, until they are fastened into restraining chairs, or zipped into restraining jackets or other equally horrific devices…then their heads are bolted into racks to keep them still, as technicians and the students do what they feel they need to do, “for the study”….again and again, year after year, monkey after monkey, student after student…this goes on and on. People must ask questions, students and parents need to ask the University’s why they continue to use live animals, and not look for alternatives. People must demand to see what is going on behind closed door’s, it is the tax payers right to know, and to see all things. T
Newton was supposed to spend many years in research, and that would have been his fate, until they discovered that he might have glaucoma, and not be useful at all for the study…and so, he was going to be terminated. Newton was sweet, young, social, kind and friendly, yet he was completely disposable to Queen’s University, once they discovered he might have a medical condition that would not work for the study he would be in. Newton was considered a valued lab animal, protected by Lab Animal Welfare Groups…, yet suddenly he had no protection from the Lab Animal Groups, except to make sure he was killed humanely. Such a contradiction, how does one kill a perfectly healthy four year old monkey, humanely, someone who is healthy and has a right to life, monkeys are killed day after day who don’t fit the protocols.
Newton got lucky, someone cared, and someone reached out…someone working in the lab, Newton had a friend who cared about him, and she asked me to help. She explained the story and I accepted reluctantly, knowing I was not solving a problem by taking him, I was saving his life, and that was so much, but I freed up a cage that would surely be filled very quickly once he was gone.
I accepted him under the condition that he not come to Fauna alone. There were some older female monkeys who could be released so the University originally said yes, but then as the time drew closer, the decision was changed to only one that would be joining Newton in Sanctuary…and her name is Darla. I wish I had been more aggressive and demanded more be released, but sadly I was not. It will forever be my regret. We all need to work hard if we want to see the end of research on all primates. They deserve this as much as anyone, and should not be forced to endure the pain and suffering of life in a research lab.
Newton is a lovely and charismatic little fellow, now a teen full of life and energy. He lacks social skills having only Darla to raise him here, and of course he lacks a social group. He is a rambunctious fellow, has many signs of stress from his captive life. He cannot cope with stress and anxiety, usually turning to self-mutilation, when he can’t figure out how to handle a situation. It’s difficult to see him to this, and to know there is nothing we can do for him is even more difficult, life in captivity is always hard.
Yet, he is a very lucky fellow, he got out, as others deserve to also. They all deserve this chance, and of course it is possible for the others too, if only someone will speak up.
Newton loves his neighbor Theo the Baboon. They have places they can groom one another, play chase, or just sit near each other. It helps to know that he has this friendship with another male, just a little older than he is. Newton’s vision is not perfect, but it does not seem to hinder him. Theo is kind and sweet with the staff here at Fauna who care for him. He is Darla’s friend, and she is good to him. He is Theo’s buddy and that is great for Theo and for Newton, and little Sophie Capuchin gets hours of entertainment watching his antics in the monkey house.
Never a dull moment with dear little Newton, who does seem to be one of the most photogenic of all of Fauna’s residents, bringing smiles to our faces always. He is a darling and we can’t help but feel good inside when we see him get pleasure from little things… like mangos, bananas, lettuce or even after he enjoys a spaghetti dinner, and is covered in tomato sauce.
He should have lived another life, a free life with friends, family, choices… He deserved that as much as any living soul deserves that.
“Who is guilty? Those who commit these crimes. But to that question, “Who is responsible?” we are compelled to say: Aren’t we all?” —Elie Wiesel