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PETA claims victory, says Army will end monkey testing at APG

BY MARISSA GALLO, mgallo@theaegis.com

7:26 PM EDT, October 13, 2011

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It appears as if PETA has scored a victory.

The animal rights organization said in a press release on Thursday that "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."

Officials from APG were not immediately available Thursday to comment.

The press release comes just a few days after PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) had announced it was planning a protest Friday and Saturday around APG, part of a recent campaign to end Army training involving monkeys. The group has had campaigns calling for the end of Army animal testing off and on for five years. PETA says the installation will now use simulators during the training process.

Although officials from APG did not comment on the protests or the press release, a post Facebook page acknowledged monkeys were injected with an overdose of physostigmine, a drug that simulates the effects of nerve-agent exposure, as part of some training exercises.

Effects from the drug include violent convulsions, seizures and vomiting and cause some monkeys to stop breathing, associate director of laboratory investigations for PETA Justin Goodman said Tuesday.

APG's Facebook page also said, "There are no validated non-animal simulators that adequately mimic a cholinergic response; however, [the Department of Defense] continues to evaluate new technologies and training models as they become available."

PETA's press release quoted the group's vice president of laboratory investigations, Kathy Guillermo, who said, "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."

PETA claims APG was the last military facility in the world that still tested on animals.

The protest was just one event PETA had planned for this month. The group had also picketed outside the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Monday, with some people wearing monkey costumes. PETA has also targeted APG commanding general Maj. Nick Justice, as well as other high ranking Army officials, according to various online accounts.