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Members of Animal ACTivists of Philly rally at the corner of 34th and Walnut streets against abuses of animals in University research facilities. In 2011, a study reported that Penn had committed 11 “severe violations” to animal welfare.

Credit: Will Marble

Tuesday afternoon, animal rights group Animal ACTivists of Philly rallied at 34th and Walnut streets against the abuse of research animals at Penn and other universities.

Protesters cited Penn’s ranking as number one among Ivy League universities in the number and severity of violations of the Animal Welfare Act — based on a report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine released in 2011 — as their reason for gathering.

“Students are shocked that something like this would happen on their campus,” activist Kevin Starbard said at the rally. “So we’re trying to make them aware that this is happening.”

The PCRM study reported 11 “severe violations” to animal welfare and 15,583 at-risk animals in University research facilities from 2008 to July 2011. In comparison, the second-ranked university on the study’s list, Princeton University, had only six severe violations and 81 at-risk animals.

“People think of their animals that they live with in their homes as part of their family — they’re not research tools,” said one protester, MaryAnne, who requested that her last name not be published.

The study also reported that from 2008 to July 2011, the University received almost $1.5 billion in funding from the National Institute of Health.

“I’m really disappointed,” said 1977 College graduate Adriana Esposito-Chalson, who was present at the rally. “It really bothers me that [Penn researchers] get this much funding and have so many violations.”

The rally is also being held in observance of World Lab Animal Liberation Week, a national week of protests and media events coordinated by Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! World Lab Animal Liberation Week began April 20 and will continue through Sunday, April 28.

Staff writer Alyssa Berlin contributed reporting.

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