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ADEY v. UNITED ACTION FOR ANIMALS

June 25, 1973

William Ross ADEY, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED ACTION FOR ANIMALS, INC., et al., Defendants


Edward Weinfeld, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINFELD

Findings Of Fact And Conclusions Of Law

EDWARD WEINFELD, District Judge.

 A monkey's flight into space has landed in this Court as a libel suit because of its diversity jurisdiction. It is the aftermath of an experimental trip in which a fourteen pound monkey nicknamed "Bonny, The Space Monkey" was propelled into earth orbit on June 28, 1969. Bonny was strapped to a couch within a small space capsule. Its bonds permitted movement of its arms and head and slight movement of its legs. The animal was heavily instrumented with several electrodes inserted into its brain, devices for measurement of blood pressure, heart rate and respiration attached, and a catheter inserted in its urinary tract. The trip, planned to last thirty days and designed to test the effect of prolonged weightlessness upon the monkey's sleep patterns and certain other physiological functions, came to a premature and ill-fated end when after eight days in space the monkey's condition began to deteriorate rapidly and it was brought to earth, where it soon died.

 The plaintiff is a doctor and a professor engaged in medical research; he is the director of the Space Biology Laboratory of the Brain Research Institute at the University of California. He is a consultant to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which sponsored the trip; he was intimately involved in the planning and execution of the Bonny mission and prepared Bonny for the flight.

 The defendants are Eleanor Seiling and MacDonald White, two ladies with rather strong views in opposition to the use of animals for experimentation purposes. They are founders, and respectively the unpaid president and vice president, of the defendant United Action for Animals, Inc. (UAA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals, with a membership of approximately 2,500.

 Within a month after the flight, the defendants, in July 1969, published and caused to be distributed to the membership of UAA and to about 500 humane societies two documents entitled "Call to Action" and "UAA Report -- Special Edition -- The Ordeal of Bonny, the Space Monkey." The first urged the readers to write to their congressmen to "insist" that funds for animal experimentation be cut off. The second, the Report, consisted of fourteen printed pages and contained photographs and a commentary on the Bonny flight. The specific statements in those two publications upon which plaintiff based his claim upon filing his suit are:

 
a. "Thus, for all Adey's expensive instrumentation and 'excellent data,' he really didn't know what was going on in his experiment, much less possess control over it. For any experiment to be scientific, it is absolutely essential that the experimenter be in full control of it. Adey's remark *fn1" calls into question the level of his own competence and the reliability of his techniques when he can express such satisfaction with data which fails to explain the most significant event of his experiment: Bonny's death." (Report, p. 3)
 
b. "Dr. W. Ross Adey is with the Brain Research Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He has a long history of abuse of animals . . ." (Report, p. 3)
 
c. "The catheter in Bonny's bladder was supposed to measure the body's chemical changes caused by weightlessness. But Adey himself is well aware that such studies on a terrorized animal are rendered unreliable and invalid by the animal's fear. Some of Adey's cruelest experiments on animals involve vibration." (Report, p. 5)
 
d. "When the dimensions of the thinboned head of a 14-pound monkey like Bonny are compared with those of man, it is clear that the great need is for science to replace the kind of savagery practiced by Adey." (Report, p. 6)
 
e. "But as we see, in 1969 Adey's methods haven't changed for the better." (Report, p. 8)
 
f. "While Adey and his colleagues continue to cling to their old research methods, scientists at the University of Wisconsin have developed what they call a 'Neurister' which can function like the gray matter of the human brain." (Report, p. 8)
 
g. "THIS REMARK DEMONSTRATES PRETTY CLEARLY THAT ADEY'S EXPERIMENT ON BONNY WAS PURE SAVAGERY, NOT PURE SCIENCE." (emphasis in the original) (Report, p. 9)
 
h. "Over the years, well supplied with money from the U.S. Air Force and NASA, Adey has performed a wide variety of exceedingly cruel animal experiments, including the vibration of live animals with electrodes in their ...

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