Following a letter from actor Woody Harrelson on PETA's behalf to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, the U.S. Army has confirmed that it will discontinue cruel monkey laboratories that were part of Aberdeen Proving Ground’s chemical casualty training courses.
For years, dozens of vervet monkeys were routinely injected with drug overdoses that caused them to convulse violently in order to crudely recreate the effects of a nerve agent. Aberdeen will now use sophisticated simulators for this course, which have been endorsed by civilian and military medical experts as superior training methods. Aberdeen was the only military facility still using animals for this training.
In his letter, Harrelson—whose many film credits include the upcoming Hunger Games and his Oscar-nominated performance as U.S. Army Captain Anthony Stone in the film The Messenger—urged Gen. Odierno to stop using monkeys in chemical warfare training exercises. Harrelson’s letter described how monkeys had to endure forced overdoses and “suffer the wretched symptoms of chemical poisoning, including seizures, breathing difficulties, loss of bowel control, and convulsions.”
“We are delighted and relieved that the U.S. Army has done an about-face and decided to use only modern, human-like simulators at all of its bases,” says PETA Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo. “This is an enormous victory for the animals who will no longer spend their lives in cages and be intentionally poisoned—and for our troops, who deserve the best training available.”
PETA’s high-profile national campaign to end the abuse of monkeys in the Army course also included support from veterans and physicians, as well as PETA members who protested near Aberdeen, at the Army’s largest national expo, and at Army recruitment centers across the country.