Macaque with head wound, above, BUAV. Top: J Creamer / NAVS
"Primates are intelligent, highly developed animals... their capacity for pain and suffering is much the same as ours"







Macaque in neurology experiment. Credit: Jan Creamer / National Anti-Vivisection Society







"We urge everyone to join us in making every effort to ensure that the barbaric research is never allowed to be repeated in any new laboratories"



Introduction to the Campaign

X-CAPE (Cambridge Against Primate Experiments) was formed in September 2000 by a group of Cambridge animal rights campaigners when it was discovered that the University of Cambridge intend to build new primate research laboratories on the outskirts of the city, where monkeys would be housed underground and subjected to cruel invasive brain experiments.

The purpose of our campaign is to prevent the authorisation of these new proposed laboratories on the grounds that the research is unethical and unscientific.

A recent undercover investigation by the BUAV revealed that Cambridge University is already conducting experiments on hundreds of marmoset monkeys in their existing laboratories, to research human neurodegenerative diseases. These experiments involve deliberately damaging monkeys' brains by sawing open their skulls, sucking out parts of the brain, surgically mutilating them or injecting them with toxins.

The site selected for the new primate laboratories was refused by South Cambridgeshire District Council in January 2000, on the grounds that it was Green Belt land. The University appealed in July 2001 but was again refused on the grounds of Crime and Disorder on the recommendation of the Chairman of Cambridgeshire Police Authority.

We argue that nothing has changed, it is still Green Belt land. Anthony Keen, Animal Aid's planning expert, has done an extensive and brilliant report on this project, which has proved invaluable to our campaign.

The University appealed to the Secretary of State, and a Public Inquiry commenced at 10am on Tuesday 26th November. On 8th January 2003, barristers for the main parties entered their closing submissions. Our barrister, Richard Wald, underlined the poverty of the University's case. Incredibly, it had failed to produce a single expert witness to support its assertion that experimenting on the brains of hundreds of monkeys' every year would serve the 'national interest' by advancing knowledge of specifically human neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and stroke.

The University claimed that fears for the personal safety of any such witness decided them on this course. And yet - in total contrast - it produced as a witness, pro-vivisection lobbyist, Mark Matfield of the Research Defence Society, to argue that opponents of the proposed lab posed no real threat to public or personal safety. Matfield was encouraged to pursue his 'no threat' line in an attempt to persuade the inquiry that permission to build the proposed centre should not be refused on the grounds that opposition would be too hard to police.

Our evidence included a fully referenced scientific critique of primate research by Dr Ray Greek.

The inspector's final report was a triumph for all those opposed to these pitiless and unscientific experiments. He declared that the University had failed to show that the proposed brain research was in the national interest.

"It would be a stronger argument," he wrote, "to say that it is nationally important [for Cambridge University] to catch up on alternative forms of research to that employing animals".

However, on November 21st the Deputy PM announced that the University had permission to proceed. Given the overwhelming way in which the planned centre was rejected, John Prescott has acted with outrageous high-handedness by swatting aside the report from his own inspector. In January 2004, Animal Aid and NAVS announced the launch of a High Court challenge to the decision and the BUAV launched Judicial Review proceedings.

Just prior to this, the governing body of Cambridge University - known as Regent House - broke its silence over the way it claims it was bounced into approving the proposed monkey research centre. The Council of the University did not even tell Regent House that the planned 'new research facility' would engage in primate research.

The revelation was contained in the university's formal journal, Cambridge University Reporter. There is clearly a great deal of anger that the equivalent of the university's parliament was duped by the executive. Back in August a Daily Express report was even predicting that Regent House could vote against going ahead.

X-CAPE believes that the University of Cambridge should abandon its monkey lab plans and, instead, dedicate its intellectual and financial resources to building a world-class Centre of Excellence (on a non-Green Belt land site). Here, human neurological diseases could be studied without harming animals, using state-of-the art non-animal technologies. See the special report on this subject by NAVS.

Equally, the sort of research being done at the Cambridge Brain Bank at Addenbrooke's Hospital is much more relevant to human diseases, as you will see if you search Cambridge Brain Bank Laboratories on the web. They do not have their own website, but they have a very good leaflet, available on request, entitled 'Cambridge Brain Bank Laboratory Appeal'.

Primates are intelligent, highly developed animals who would normally live in social groups similar to our own. Their capacity for pain and suffering is much the same as ours, and the close confinement, isolation and handling, all further contribute to stress and torment for these highly sensitive creatures. On this site you will find summary information about the use of primates in research, as well as links to longer articles on the sites of other animal protection groups.

For a general introduction to the use of primates in brain research, read the Dr Hadwen Trust's Report on the Use of (Non-Human) Primates in Brain Research. The report makes for compelling reading.

We urge everyone to join us in making every effort to ensure that the barbaric research, as exposed by the BUAV, is never allowed to be repeated in any new laboratories.

An anti-vivisection battleground >>

X-CAPE can be contacted by email at or by phone on 01223 311828.