Warwick students learn first hand about animal testing in AIDS research

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:14

    Warwick-"I will always do what I think is morally and ethically correct"" said Dr. James Mahoney on May 14 at an assembly in Warwick Valley Middle School. Mr. (Daryl) Wilbur's 7 grade classes had read several articles about him and several excerpts from his book Saving Molly. But nothing could have prepared us for the ultimate strength, knowledge, and courage presented by him on Friday. His message: "Ethics vs. Practicality." Dr. James Mahoney spent 20 years in LEMSIP- a lab that used animals to test AIDS. What made Dr. Mahoney different from all the other scientists was that he felt the need for humanity for the animals. Ninety eight percent of our genes are in chimpanzees, he explained; therefore they make useful animals to test because they are so human like. He does not believe it is immoral to test on animals; he believes it is immoral to be cruel to them. "The cruelest thing we do to them is not the research; it's putting them in cages. No matter how kind you are, you're still imprisoning them." That bothered the doctor and as the years have progressed, it's become harder and harder. "When you're faced with individual animals and you know them as individuals, you realize that they're not just rows of cages anymore." The cages actually caused the problem. The lab had to shut down because they would have to enlarge the cage for the primates and that would cost just too much. They had planned to send the chimps to Fred Coolston's lab, a company known for their cruel, harsh treatment of their animals, but Dr. Mahoney intercepted the deal. He rescued 190 chimps and 100 monkeys by sneaking them into sanctuaries located around the country. The miraculous LEMSIP rescue is not all this hero can claim to his name. He has been all over the world, helping and healing In the long run, the one thing he said to remember about him, is not where he's been, not how he looks, but this piece of knowledge: "Although humans are important, they are not more important than the animals."