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Author: Michael Crichton

The question of what constituted cruelty to animals was confused by the animal societies themselves. In some countries, they fought the extermination of rats; and in 1968 there was the bizarre Australian pharmaceutical case. * In the face of these ironies, the courts hesitated to interfere with animal experimentation. As a practical matter, researchers were free to do as they wished. The volume of animal research was extraordinary: during the 1970s, sixty-four million animals were killed in experiments in the United States each year.

But attitudes had slowly changed. Language studies with dolphins and apes made it clear that these animals were not only intelligent but self-aware; they recognized themselves in mirrors and photographs. In 1974, scientists themselves formed the International Primate Protection League to monitor research involving monkeys and apes. In March, 1978, the Indian government banned the export of rhesus monkeys to research laboratories around the world. And there were court cases which concluded that in some instances animals did, indeed, have rights.

The old view was analogous to slavery: the animal was the property of its owner, who could do whatever he wished. But now ownership became secondary. In February, 1977,

*A new pharmaceutical factory was built in Western Australia. In this factory all the pills came out on a conveyor bell; a person had to watch the belt, and press buttons to sort the pills into separate bins by size and color. A Skinnenan animal behaviorist pointed out that it would be simple to teach pigeons to watch the pills and peck colored keys to do the sorting process. Incredulous factory managers agreed to a test; the pigeons indeed performed reliably, and were duly placed on the assembly line. Then the RSPCA stepped in and put a stop to it on the grounds that it represented cruelty to animals; the job was turned over to a human operator. for whom it did not, apparently, represent cruelty.

there was a case involving a dolphin named Mary, released by a lab technician into the open ocean. The University of Hawaii prosecuted the technician, charging loss-of a valuable research animal. Two trials resulted in hung juries; the case was dropped.

In November, 1978, there was a custody case involving a chimpanzee named Arthur, who was fluent in sign language. His owner, Johns Hopkins University, decided to sell him and close the program. His trainer, William Levine, went to court and obtained custody on the grounds that Arthur knew language and thus was no longer a chimpanzee.

"One of the pertinent facts," Morton said, "was that when Arthur was confronted by other chimpanzees, he referred to them as 'black things.' And when Arthur was twice asked to sort photographs of people and photographs of chimps, he sorted them correctly except that both times he put his own picture in the stack with the people. He obviously did not consider himself a chimpanzee, and the court ruled that he should remain with his trainer, since any separation would cause him severe psychic distress."

"Amy cries when I leave her," Elliot said.

"When you conduct experiments, do you obtain her permission?"

"Always." Elliot smiled. Morton obviously had no sense of day-to-day life with Amy. It was essential to obtain her permission for any course of action, even a ride in a car. She was a powerful animal, and she could be willful and stubborn.

"Do you keep a record of her acquiescence?"


"Does she understand the experiments you propose?" He shrugged. "She says she does."

"You follow a system of rewards and punishments?" "All animal behaviorists do."

Morton frowned. "What forms do her punishments take?"

"Well, when she's a bad girl I make her stand in the corner facing the wall. Or else I send her to bed early without her peanut-butter-and-jelly snack."

"What about torture and shock treatments?"


"You never physically punish the animal?"

"She's a pretty damn big animal. Usually I worry that she'll get mad and punish me."

Morton smiled and stood. "You're going to be all right," he said. "Any court will rule that Amy is your ward and that you must decide any ultimate disposition in her case." He hesitated. "I know this sounds strange, but could you put Amy on the stand?"

"I guess so," Elliot said. "Do you think it will come to that?"

"Not in this case," Morton said, "but sooner or later it will. You watch: within ten years, there will be a custody case involving a language-using primate, and the ape will be in the witness-box."

Elliot shook his hand, and said as he was leaving, "By the way, would I have any problem taking her out of the country?"

"If there is a custody case, you could have trouble taking her across state lines," Morton said. "Are you planning to take her out of the country?"


"Then my advice is to do it fast, and don't tell anyone," Morton said.

Elliot entered his office on the third floor of the Zoology Department building shortly after nine. His secretary, Carolyn, said: "A Dr. Ross called from that Wildlife Fund in Houston; she's on her way to San Francisco. A Mr. Mori?kawa called three times, says it's important. The Project Amy staff meeting is set for ten o'clock. And Windy is in your office."


James Weldon was a senior professor in the Department, a weak, blustery man. "Windy" Weldon was usually portrayed in departmental cartoons as holding a wet finger in the air: he was a master at knowing which way the wind was blowing. For the past several days, he had avoided Peter Elliot and his staff.

Elliot went into his office.

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