Where did the monkeys go?
ALIVE'S Ms. Sato phones the head of the Japanese Monkey Centre
and gets some dubious answers
In April 1998, Hakusan Park located in Niigata City transferred
37 monkeys to the Japanese Monkey Centre in Aichi Prefecture. At
that time ALIVE had put in a strong request that those monkeys sould
not be used for experiments (see NL #20).
According to information obtained from the mayor's office, the
bill for housing and feeding those monkeys in the region of 1,000,000
yen a year was footed by the tax payers of Niigata, who, one assumes,
should have the right to know how their monkeys were faring.
Since written requests by ALIVE to the Monkey Centre were left
unanswered, I decided to try the phone. The conversation with Monkey
Centre director Mr. Odera went as follows.
the Hakusan monkeys breeding?
do you prevent them from
17 males and 20 females are
in two separate cages.
there no problems with this?
all right. (I
questioned a monkey researcher
about this, and he said that
since monkeys live in groups,
keeping them apart like this
was contrary to their habits):
are you keeping the monkeys
area closed to the public.
the monkeys been tatooed
like to see some pictures.
case, I should like to come
show them to you because
they are in an area closed
to the public.
are busy, then maybe some
staff member could show me
tell the staff members not
to show them to you. (!!)
citizens of Niigata have
for long years been friends
with these monkeys. They
pay a lot of money for their
upkeep. Now I have read in
the newspaper that they should
be sold off to research labs,
and as a citizen of Niigata
I am obviously concerned.
How should I understand your
utterance that they cannot
be shown to anyone?
City, in reply to questions
by the World Society for
the Protection of Animals
(WSPA), an adviser to the
United Nations, and members
of its own parliament, confirmed
that the monkeys from its
park would not be resold
for experiments. Should Monkey
Centre do so nonetheless,
you would mislead not only
the citizens of Niigata,
but people worldwide.
What shall we make of Monkey Centre director Odera's evasive answers
and silences? The citizens of Niigata think that their monkeys have
been moved from their small cages to an open enclosure where they
would be able to spend the rest of their lives. They must not be
betrayed this way.
Two monkeys die:
In April 1998, Niigata City received five
new monkeys from the Monkey Centre. Soon after, one of the female
monkeys that had just given birth to a baby, died. The stress
caused by the sudden separation from her child, and the fatigue
from the long journey, led to her death.
A second monkey died in October from lead poisoning. The lead was
either contained in the paint applied to the cages, or in the metal
itself. Constant nibbling had probably been the cause. The danger
now of course is that other monkeys get sick as well. There is no
plan though to replace the current cages and fences with new ones
made from steel.
Contact the Monkey Centre by phone +81 568
612327 or fax +81 568 626823.
The cry of wild animals...
The "revision" of the
Wildlife Conservation Act
by Fusako Nogami
As controls on hunting and
culling are loosened, Japan's
wildlife gets cornered.
The Environment Agency will present
its revision of the "Wildlife
Conservation and Hunting Law" to
parliament in February next year.
Passed in 1928, its language feels
now dusty. Conditions have also
changed dramatically, and roughly
half the mammal species inhabiting
Japan are teetering on the edge
of extinction. In these dangerous
times, one would hope for stricter
legislation. However, the current
proposal will effect the opposite.
It is based on a draft by a Liberal
Party committee called on to consider "Counter
measures for destructive wildlife",
which was circulated in unaltered
form among farmers who had reported
damage, and also some specialist
opinion was sought.
Main points of the revision
- Controls on hunting (by gun
or snare) are to be loosened
Since hunters are getting
older on average, and their
numbers are dwindling, several
measures to stop these trends
were proposed: fees should
be lowered, at present separate
permits for hunting by gun
and by snare should be made
into a general hunting permit,
and the permit should be
easier to obtain. The hunting
season should be extended,
and wildlife sanctuaries
reduced in size. Already
the hunting season for foxes,
badgers and other fur producing
animals has been made longer.
In Hokaido the daily limit
on deer hunting has been
doubled from one to two animals.
In contrast, there are strong
feelings against promoting
hunting for sport and recreation.
- The culling of destructive
wildlife is to be speeded up
Complaints about crop destruction
by wildlife have dramatically
increased, and since there
is no system for compensation,
calls for the culling of
such animals have intensified.
In order to speed up and
facilitate this work, Environmental
Agency chief Miya, citing
decentralization, said he
would relinquish authority
to the prefectures, which
in turn should make the communities
responsible to carry out
the task. However, there
are problems with carrying
out wildlife protection in
small administrative units. Animals
do not respect borders and
will move from one unit to
another. An animal that might
enjoy protection inside city
limits could be destroyed
when it moves to the suburbs.
- Science, planning and population
Since culling animals of
a species without any scientific
information about population
numbers may ultimately lead
to their extinction, the
proposal also calls for research
into sustainable levels of
destructive animals such
as deer and bears. This,
however, raises the fundamental
question of up to what point
humans can control nature.
Population numbers vary greatly
over time and are affected
by factors such as climate
change. Deer are decimated
during cold winters. Since
humans cannot control nature,
why should they be able to
control wildlife population
Rather than this: protect the
Even today, permission to cull
destructive wildlife is usually
granted. If in spite of this, crop
damage does not decrease, there
must be some mistake in the current
approach. All over the Japanese
islands, forests are mowed down,
and roads, resorts, and golf clubs
encroach on the natural habitat
of wildlife. Further aggravating
the situation are factors such
as soil erosion, water pollution
and freak weather. Hence what
is really needed are measures to
reverse the degradation of the
environment in which these animals
Notes of a lecture which went
By Yukari Sugisaka
I went to listen to a life science
forum entitled "Genetic science--the
way ahead", which had been
organised by the pharmaceutical
company Novartis (a recent merger
of the Swiss companies Ciba-Geigy
and Sandoz). Panelists included
journalists and researchers from
relevant fields. Among them, anthropologist
Prof. Kimura (Waseda and Georgetown
Universities) made some interesting
points about the problems related
to animal experiments and the significance
of of life.
Prof. Kimura introduces this kind
of thinking as a member of a think
tank of the Japanese Ministry of
Health and Welfare.
- unless we can overcome our
current anthropocentrism, we
shall face a dangerous future;
- he is principally against cloning
(including that of sheep);
- the Swiss in a recent referendum
vetoed an issue concerning biotechnology
6:4. The discussion of such vital
issues should not be restricted
to professionals, the people
themselves should have a say.
The role of the mass media will
- it is strange that we associate
a sheep or pig only with tasty
food. The cloning of food producing
animals must also be discussed;
- there are some theoretical
problems with the organ manufacture
and transplant across species;
- scientists are asking "What
is life?" There are certain
dangers if we think of humans
as at the center of all, and
only consider the wellbeing of
humans. While there are many
scientists that give priority
to humans, he himself is opposed;
- we have to put a stop to the
trend to categorize living beings
- as humans cross borders of
knowledge and invent new techniques,
they have to exert proper caution;
Highlights of the panel discussion
Since the DNA of the Escherichia
coli has been completely analyzed,
and hence its composition, structure,
and functions are all know today,
it seems possible that the Escherichia
coli might be recreated synthetically
at some point during the next century.
This, anyway, is the opinion of
the two pannelists Prof. Asano
Murakami: If "life" is
defined as the ability to reproduce
itself (by cell division) then
it should be possible to manufacture
a living thing such as Escherichia
coli fairly soon.
Asano: It might become
possible during the 21st century
to produce animal organs in the
Murakami: It is expected
that by 2003 the structure of the
human DNA will be completely analyzed,
and that the information contained
in the DNA can be made into a computer
chip, which will open up a highly
profitable market. The information
of 2000 DNA chains can be stored
on a single chip. In other words,
even before a baby is born, any
diseases it might fall victim to
in later life may be detected,
and prepared for. In this way the
quality of life will improve.
Murakami: The current scientific
consensus is that extending somebody's
lifespan by even one second is
a good thing. In future the quality
of life must become more central.
Human death today is natural. Yet
even death is probably inscribed
in the DNA. The desirability of
extreme longevity is questionable.
Murakami: A year ago a
head transplant between monkeys
was performed in the USA. It was
said that the transplanted heads
moved their face muscles.
Also recently, the arm of a brain
dead person was transferred to
another patient, with blood and
nerves and all. Good or bad, this
will be the future.
Murakami: Researchers produced
a mouse with high blood pressure
by modifying its genes. Then they
made a mouse with low blood pressure
by knocking out that subsequence
of DNA which had caused the high
blood pressure. However, this "knock-out" mouse
turned out to be handicapped in
various unforseen ways. In other
words, we cannot simplistically
take out the "bad" genes
and expect the rest to be perfect.
Parts of DNA sequence do not just
control one aspect of an organism,
the also affect the whole.