Covance is one of the largest contract animal research corporations in the world, and their Alice, Texas facility includes a primate quarantine facility that holds primates who are imported into the United States while they wait to be approved to be trucked off to laboratories where they will be tortured and killed. Since one component of the Fight or Flight Tour is to further The Bunny Alliance’s work to stop the transport of animals to laboratories, having a Covance protest made sense as a way to highlight what happens to the primates after they are transported into the United States.
To reach Covance’s Alice facility we had to drive miles outside of any semblance of a city or town, into an area where fields of corn meet the horizon and a few farm houses are the only sign of human inhabitants. I thought about why a corporation would build a facility in such a remote location, inconvenient for employees and a long trek for deliveries. The answer seems obvious though: what Covance does to animals is something that they want hidden, placed out of sight and thus out of the minds of most people. We were approaching a facility that few humans have seen, where thousands and thousands of animals have spent endless moments of suffering and have no one to respond to their screams.
We drove up to the Covance facility discussing the strategic merit of the protest, and possible media coverage and messaging, but that all fell into silence and became utterly insignificant when we saw the horror behind their fences. I expected to be pulling up to a building that hid the primates behind concrete walls; instead, the nightmare in which the primates live was shockingly visible. Standing behind a barbed wire electrified fence bearing signs that warned against bringing cameras into the facility were rows and rows of cages—at least hundreds, maybe thousands—for as far as we could see. We all went silent, and as what I was seeing sank in more, I gasped and my hand flew to my mouth. Suzanna, the dog traveling with us, started whimpering. Even she knew something was very wrong.
We got out of the car to stand closer to the fence and look at the cages, barren and so far away from the forests from which the monkeys were kidnapped and torn away from their families. We heard a monkey scream, and I felt the cry reach inside me and tear me apart in a way that still makes me feel numb in knowing that I can’t even begin to imagine the terror that the monkeys experience—and in knowing that the terror has just begun for them. As awful and lonely as the cages look, they are a sanctuary compared to the scalpels, needles, and restraint devices that await the monkeys in laboratories. I held onto Suzanna as I listened to the screaming monkey, and I wished that my protective arms wrapped around her could be felt by all of the animals before me.
Footage of the cages can be viewed by clicking here.
We hoped that in some way the monkeys knew we were there because we want them to be free from the clutches of the vivisection industry. What we are doing now on this tour will not save the monkeys who are currently imprisoned at Covance, but we are fighting to make sure that the nightmare stops recurring. By working to stop the transport of animals to laboratories, we are working to make it so that Covance can no longer fill its cages. We are working for the day when the cages are empty and rusting, and the grass around the cages grows up around them and the nightmare is but a haunting memory.