In early March 2002 three activists from the newly-formed SHAC Japan flew out of Heathrow airport with one purpose: TO EXPOSE THE JAPANESE ANIMAL RESEARCH INDUSTRY BECAUSE OF THEIR LINKS WITH THE SCANDALOUS LABORATORY HUNTINGDON LIFE SCIENCES.
The account that follows is by one of the investigators.
When we arrived in Japan we hit the ground running. We knew where we were going and where we intended to gain access to and nothing was going to stop us.
By the end of our stay in Japan we had seen a wide variety of animals used for experiments. These included primates, beagles and cross-breed dogs, rabbits, goats, pigs, mice and rats. Every one of these animals has its own story to tell. Once you have looked them in the eyes you never forget them. The faces of some of the animals I saw will haunt me forever. Their pitiful lives were so horrific that when I think of them everything else pales into insignificance. The whole of the industry has the blood of these animals on their hands.
Some of these animals were unfortunate enough to be held at Kansai University near Osaka. This building was directly opposite the local hospital and linked by walkways and corridors. We gained access past the security and made for the basement area where our research had told us the animals were kept. We could clearly smell the stench of animal waste and laboratory cleaning fluids. On entry we were approached by a doctor wearing a white lab coat and mask. Here was the first test of our cover story which worked perfectly. He showed us around one primate facility happily believing us to be from Huntingdon Life Sciences, happily explaining what experiments he was carrying out. The primates were being used in bone marrow experiments. He stated that he had been to Huntingdon and their facilities and the experiments he had seen were similar to the ones at Osaka. The bank of cages housed terrified, sad and totally broken cynomulgus monkeys, which had been imported from Vietnam. Some constantly spun in circles around their tiny barren cages, picking frantically at their already hairless bodies. Others were so terrified they tried to hide in the far corner of their cages. They were frozen with fear.
At the end of one of these rooms was a monkey much larger than the others. She was sitting very still staring blankly into space. We were told by the doctor that she was over 7 years old. They had stopped using her for experiments and had decided to keep her just for a laugh. He laughed in her face to tell her how fat and stupid she was. The doctor decided to show us the method they use for crushing the monkeys in order to administer drugs. He turned to the 7 year old monkey and yanked the two handles on either side of her cage towards him. This brought metal bars at the back of her cage into her back until she was crushed against the front. She screamed a high-pitched terrified scream. He laughed as he released her telling her to shut up “ Or her guests would take her back to Huntingdon.”
This primate has virtually no fur left due to confinement. She was returned to her previous statue-like state. Although her head was bowed I could see a single tear falling from her left eye.
The doctor then tried to hurry us from the room but I managed to go back to see her one more time. I felt as though I somehow wanted to tell her that the person standing next to the doctor while she was being crushed was not the real me. As I was leaning in towards her cage she suddenly reached out and plucked a single hair from my head. She quickly retreated to the back of her cage, engrossed with this new thing of interest which she was now manically twisting around her fingers. I didn’t know whether to feel better or worse: better because she now actually had something to do, her routine and boredom was broken even if just for a few minutes and worse, because I could see then how desperately sad her life was, it had been for 7 years and would be until she died.
I left that room feeling totally heartbroken but nothing could prepare me for what was in the next room. The cages that contained animals were all free-standing and in two rows on the floor in the center and the right hand side of the room. These primates were much larger than the cynomulgus monkeys. The cages were much taller but primates were still barely able to stand straight.
In one cage there was a large primate. I was horrified when I saw his head. A large metal plate had been bolted onto his skull. The whole device was inches thick and was surrounded by a thick pinkish -looking cement at its base. This monkey could not move as freely as the other one. It was continually gently picking at the base of the metal implant and shaking his head from side to side obviously in great discomfort. The weight of this device seemed to cause him to hunch forward. He peered at us from the back and through the top of his cage with huge worried eyes.
As we were leaving I noticed another cage in the far corner of the room. This primate also had a metal device attached to his head but he hid in the dark towards the back of the cage. His arm was outstretched though, his hand was through the bars of the door of his cage and he was twisting and turning the padlock on his door.
At Kyoto Furitu University, we found a mixture of animals in a large semi open farm type building. This building was in semi-darkness and stunk of urine and faeces. Along the far wall were about 6 cages. These contained fully-grown goats. Towards the centre of the room were 4 more cages containing large pigs, at the back and side of the room was another goat and one huge pig. All the animals had large screw -like devices protruding from their sides. When I looked closely I could see that the devices screwed extremely tightly and therefore digging deeply into the animals’ flesh. All of these implants were thickly caked in dirt. These devices can be unscrewed to reveal a tube leading directly into the stomach. Along the building opposite there were 3 or 4 beagles chained to kennels. These continually paced in small circles, occasionally stopping to look at us with their tails firmly down between their legs. As I approached one he slumped against the wall shaking with fear, his head was hung low and he was unable to look at me. He urinated with fear while I was there. Others attempted to bark, but were unable to do so, as they had been de-vocalised. Inside we found pigs in a similar condition. These must have been recently fitted as the wounds were still fresh - they were red, sore and weeping. The animals were in a great deal of pain.
At Juntendo University in Tokyo I found myself being shocked to a new level all over again. We knew from our reconnaissance trip in January that this facility was found on the roof, surrounded by neighbouring tower blocks and again opposite a large hospital. We had also spent days in January keeping the security under surveillance and this proved invaluable when it came to neutralizing it. There was one row of kennels on the roof which housed cross -bred dogs. These were all ex-pets, brought from the Hokenso, the Japanese equivalent to a dog pound. They were all chained to the wall of their concrete kennel. The back of the kennel was in total darkness. This is where all the dogs could be found. All I could see was clumps of fur and faeces everywhere. At the back I could only see a pair of eyes peering out at me. We eventually managed to get a couple of these dogs to come to the front of the kennel. They were emaciated. Their fur was either totally matted or hanging out in clumps. Worse still when they tried to bark at us nothing happened except for a tiny hoarse croak. They had all been devocalised.
In the very end kennel was one lone goat. It was so large it filled the whole space it lived in. Again the floor was filthy.
Opposite the row of kennels was a separate unit that was purpose built to house animals. This building could be accessed from within the medical schools fifth floor. We were stopped by security but after showing him all the identification we had in the name of HLS and Huntingdon security passes he was so convinced that he even showed us to the right part of the building. We showed yet again that with enough determination we can access anywhere. Whilst making our way through the fifth floor we came across a group of medical students. Far from backing off we were by now so confident that we could access any Japanese research facility that we decided to engage them in conversation explaining that we were from Huntingdon Life Sciences in Cambridgeshire, England. Several of them looked a bit confused and went on to explain that from the Japanese media they thought Huntingdon had closed. We thought not yet mate but they will. We parted from them and made our way into our target area. This building was basically split into three rooms. The central room contained an operating table and equipment. The two rooms at the back of this room contained dogs.
The first room we entered had a bank of cages on either side. These had a bottom and a top row. The cages at the top of one side all contained young beagle puppies. All were undergoing experiments. Most of them had an incision in the top of their heads, which was stitched together but left a hole big enough to hold a 4 inch long metal 'probe'. I don’t know what the purpose of this probe was but it had obviously been inserted deeply into the animals’ heads. The protruding part was awkward and uncomfortable for the dogs. As they were spinning and jumping around they would catch it on the cage bars. This would cause them to cry in pain as the skin was ripped slightly around the probe.
Some of the beagles had large areas shaved on their backs. In the centre of their backs was a large bloody scar. These beagles were so young but their entire bodies were hunched up, their back legs were unable to take their weight properly. They looked as if they were being slowly crippled. They found it difficult to stand up on the uncomfortable floors. They were slipping and looked rather dazed and clumsy. I realized that these dogs were still puppies and remarkably some of them still had a playfulness in them. I knew that they had probably never played and certainly never would. Their short lives would probably soon be over and they would have known nothing but the life in these cages
On the opposite side to these beagles were mostly cross-bred dogs. At the end of the top row was what can only be described as a scrap of life. This small brown dog was shaking uncontrollably from head to toe. He was petrified by humans. He was so thin that every rib showed through his patchy rough skin. He was frozen still in a hunched position, staring at us with the most terrified eyes I have ever seen in my life. Due to his fear he was unable to control his bowels and sat in his own fresh faeces. I could see that under his chin was a wire protruding out. This was similar to the beagles opposite but maybe smaller.
I could not take my eyes away from this dog for a long time. I wanted to help him so much but holding my hands out to him, talking to him and just looking at him was only terrifying him.
The next room was much bigger and again full of dogs. One in particular caught my eye because she reminded me of a friend’s dog. She was quite big with a beautiful face and long white fur. Her nose was sticking out of a gap in the bars of her cage door, her black eyes almost catatonic. All the fur around her head and neck was hanging down in long dreadlocks. She shook constantly from side to side. This was not out of fear but was due to what must have been a mental disorder. I asked myself if this had been inflicted upon her or had she simply gone mad as a result of her life in that place. She looked old; she showed no spark, no reactions, no sign of life was left. The Japanese research industry had taken everything away from her.
At Osaka Furitu University we were interested in a separate building at the far corner of the vast university site. Along the outside of this building were large open pens. These were covered in faeces and urine. At the back of these pens were double cages that were old and rusty. A fully-grown beagle was in each side, the floors of the cages buckling under their weight. One of these dogs was heavily pregnant, the other continually circled around her tiny cage panting from the heat of the sun. These cages were tiny and barren, no thought had been given to the animals most basic needs. Inside this building were rows of even smaller rusty cages.
On the other side of this building was an internal area where we found a large room with banks of cages on either side. One beagle looked so old; his eyes were watering, his tongue was hanging out, he was twitching and shaking continually and seemed to have difficulty even moving his head from side to side. He showed no emotion when he saw us, he just stayed in this sad state.
In a cage nearby to this one was a truly disturbing sight. A mother had obviously given birth to her pups in this cage and then they had been left. Now the puppies were nearly fully grown - no-one had bothered to move them to their own cage but had decided to leave them to share the same cage as the others. There were about seven dogs in this cage, all of them scrambled at the door when they saw us, pushing their noses through the mesh door, all fighting for just a little bit of space and attention. This cage was exactly the same size as the other cages that held just one dog. We decided to keep this unit under surveillance and kept it under constant watch from Friday morning until we left the following Monday afternoon. In that whole time not one person came to check that the animals were all right. Any one of them could have become ill and would have been left to rot.
Osaka University was on the grounds of Osaka Hospital and Osaka Medical University. Near the main road running through the grounds we found a large brick building with a wire mesh roof. Inside were large pens which housed primates of all ages, some looked newly born. Their mothers held their babies close when they saw us and hurried away to hide.
When we investigated the small building next to this one we understood why these animals were so frightened. We gained entry to this building by a side window that was left open. Inside were mainly computers, monitors and files. From our extensive research we had learned this department was carrying out nerve damage research and were likely to have videoed it. One of us stayed outside in constant radio contact with the other two inside. After searching the building for over two hours we managed to locate the tapes with animals names and numbers on them. We decided to borrow these tapes in order to tape them. Once this was done all the tapes were returned. We discovered the tapes were recordings of experiments with a wide range of animals including large primates, squirrel monkeys and a wallaby. These animals were fitted with many devices that seemed to monitor their heart rate. Some of the animals had much larger devices attached to their backs. These had wires protruding out of large metal squares that could be seen underneath the bandages which held everything in place.
The experiments always took the form of the animal being forced to walk along the floor or climb up a horizontal or diagonal scaffolding pipe. Out of the hours and hours of video footage we watched we witnessed every animal being used being abused by its ‘handler’. One large primate was aggressively kicked and then hit repeatedly in the face when he refused to be dragged any further. The fact that he was cowering on the floor made no difference to his abuser. Others were swung in the air by their leads and dragged along the floor while they remained totally frozen with fear.
The psychological damage to all they animals was obvious. They underwent hours of repeated experiments and were treated with no respect at all. We can see by the dates on the tapes that these experiments have been continuing for years. The animals at this university are bred in one building then taken to the next building to undergo possibly years of experiments and then they are killed.
THE MESSAGE IS VERY SIMPLE AND CLEAR. IF YOU AS AN INDUSTRY ARE DEALING WITH HUNTINGDON LIFE SCIENCES THEN WE WILL RESEARCH YOU, KEEP YOU UNDER SURVEILLANCE AND THEN ENTER YOUR PREMISES TAKING WITH US EVERYTHING THAT YOU CONSIDER TO BE SECRET. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. SEVER YOUR LINKS WITH HUNTINGDON LIFE SCIENCES BEFORE YOUR SECRETS BECOME PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE.