New student fights for primates

The fight isn’t only between Jeremy Beckham and the U anymore.

Sophomore Kim Bowman, member of the Utah Primate Freedom Project, received his own bill for more than $200 from the U for requesting details about one of the marmosets housed at the Animal Resource Center.

Both students, believing such details to be public information, requested the documentsthrough Utah’s open records law under the Government Records Access and Management Act.

Bowman is one of 30 “defenders,” each a proud owner of Primate Freedom tags. The steel tags, displayed on a necklace or key chain, have the serial number, birth date, gender, species and location of one of the primates living at the center.

Using the number, concerned defenders plan to request further documentation about the treatment of their adopted friend and any experimentation being conducted on the animal.

In a letter displayed on the project’s Web site, defenders, like Bowman and Beckham, ask the U for “all laboratory reports, protocols, daily care logs, veterinary reports, photographs, videotapes” pertaining to the specific primate.

However, lofty fees imposed by the U have successfully ground further requests from the group to a halt. Beckham asked other members to hold their letters until he has dealt with his and Bowman’s fees in a legal setting.

U attorney Phyllis Vetter sent Bowman the same form letter she sent Jeremy Beckham, charging them both for “legal review,” “technical review,” and “physical redaction.”

After battling Beckham in front of the State Records Committee in January, Vetter and the U retained a right to charge a fee for copies and for employing someone to review the documents. Beckham and other members of the project never thought the documents would be so costly, however, and plan to appeal the fees even if they have to take the battle back to the committee.

Vetter did not return phone calls.

By purchasing a tag for $10, each defender accepted an oath to wear the tag to publicly display his or her outrage of primate captivity and experimentation.

“The University of Utah and the vivisectors who they employ may consider primates to be furry test tubes for their disposal, but we view them as intelligent, sentient individuals with minds of their own,” the oath states. “Using primates in unconsenting experimentation is no more ethical or appropriate than using human children.”

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