Activist: We Need More Deadly Hurricanes

This week, of course, the major news is the ongoing disaster in New Orleans where Hurricane Katrina has forced the evacuation of the city and likely killed thousands of people. And if animal rights activist Rick Bogle had his way, there would be many more Katrinas.

On an animal rights mailing list devoted to primate research, Bogle posted a link to Tulane’s main web site, noting there was no mention yet of the status of the university’s primate research center, Covington.

Animal rights activist Jean Barnes replied to that e-mail to the effect that she had talked to a USDA official who said there were no primate deaths at Tulane, but that there were other animals that were stuck in the facility.

Bogle replied,

If there were no primate deaths at Covington over the past few days, then this must be the first time in a long time that a monkey hasn’t died. We need more Katrinas.

Barnes then replied,

Katrina would need to extend to DC to be most effective.

Animal rights activists always get angry when their critics charge that they care more about animals than people, but Bogle and Barnes demonstrate the casual disregard for human beings that is characteristic of many activists. A hurricane that likely killed thousands of people and caused upwards of $50 billion in damages is a good thing, and would be even better if it would land elsewhere.


Primfocus: Tulane. E-mail messages, Jean Barnes and Rick Bogle, September 1, 2005.

Jean Barnes Bizarre Letter about World Week for Animals in Laboratories

It’s been awhile since this site has reported on Jean Barnes, but in April she sent out an e-mail describing a protest that the Primate Freedom Project held outside Emory University. You might remember Barnes as the activist who thinks that research into gender assignment is inherently homophobic. She also turns out to be the activist who thinks her opponents are just sitting at home waiting for her to call. In her e-mail, Barnes wrote (emphasis added),

We had lots of media — including a one hour visit at WNNX where show hosts had invited at least 12 different Emory U. researchers to participate in an exchange with Ingrid [Newkirk]. None of Emory’s ‘trained medical professionals’ had the backbone to take on Ingrid — who to my knowledge — has no medical training. After WNNX was unable to secure an Emory dr. or researcher, they called around the US trying to get a medical type to discuss research with her. Again, no takers.

WNNX finally decided to try Ted Nugent. Ted could conveniently not be reached . . .

Yeah, I’m sure Nugent was home quaking in his boots at the thought of being called about a protest organized by Barnes.

Dang, they should have called me — I’d have debated that twit Newkirk. How convenient that Barnes didn’t bother!


Who’s Afraid of Ingrid Newkirk? Jean Barnes, Primate Freedom Project, April 28, 2004.

Jean Barnes Just Makes It Up as She Goes Along

Jean Barnes posted an e-mail to AR-NEWS the other day urging animal rights activist to contact the Commerce Club in Atlanta, Georgia, to protest an upcoming appearance by Deborah Insel. Insel is a former high school teacher who is going to discuss her work at trying to increase the number of low-income high school kids who go on to college.

For Barnes and others, Insel is fair game because she is married to Emory University professor Tom Insel, who is the former director of the Yerkes Primate Center. According to Barnes’ e-mail,

It is doubtful she will reveal her husband Tom has tortured and killed animals for years at Emory.

Deborah, has known for years about her husbands experiments and has failed to take a public position about the cruelty involved. Rather, Deborah Insel has (publically) remained silent and allowed the cruelty to continue. Deborah Insel has financially benefitted from Tom’s salary at Emory/Yerkes as he tortures and mistreats non-human primates and other animals at Emory/Yerkes. She has participated in cruelty by omission.

Cruelty by omission? Isn’t that what Barnes specializes in when she conveniently leaves out relevant facts and resorts to outright lies to make her case?

Barnes claims, for example that,

Tom Insel, one of the many vivisectors who has performed experiments on animals, especially primates at Yerkes, has made a career of useless and cruel experiments on animals. As Insel has admitted, Yerkes spent years on AIDS research knowing the experiments were useless and our tax money squandered. Not surprisingly, Insel failed to comment on the pain and suffering of animals he needlessly tortured in his experiments.

When Elizabeth Griffin, a Yerkes researcher died, Insel was seen on 20/20 making callous remarks. Yerkes’ employees stated Insel blamed Griffin for her own death. Emory quickly reassigned Tom to other duties.

Lets look at these claims one at a time.

Has Insel “made a career of useless and cruel experiments”? Actually, Insel’s research in both humans and non-human animals has produced an important body of work in the area he specializes in, neuroscience (Barnes implies that Insel has done AIDS research with monkeys which is simply not true). Insel was the first to show that serotonin uptake drugs were useful in treating some mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In animal research, he has specialized in studies of pair bonding in rodents. In 1991, Insel won the Curt Richter Prize from the International Society for Psychoneuro-endocrinology for rodent research demonstrating the importance that the oxytocin and vasopressin pathways in the brain serve in forming social attachments.

More recently, Insel and Larry Young of Emory University became the first researchers to alter the behavior of an animal through the alteration of a single gene. They created a genetically modified mouse that contained a gene from the prairie vole that suppresses vasopressin production. The mice were far more interested in female mice than are normal mice and made them more monogamous.

Did Insel say, as Barnes claims, that “Yerkes spent years on AIDS research knowing the experiments were useless and our tax money squandered.” Of course not — that claim exists only in Barnes’ imagination. In fact what Insel told The Scientist and others is that it had become apparent that chimpanzees were not a useful AIDS model, largely because it takes them so long to develop the disease. This is hardly news as most research echo Insel’s view that monkeys are a much better animal model, and much innovative AIDS research involving monkeys has been and is currently being conducted at Yerkes.

Did Emory University “quickly reassign Tom to other duties” after his appearance on ABC’s 20/20? That is a claim repeated over and over on web sites, but the reality is much different.

Insel did indeed step down as director of Yerkes on October 16, 1999. But not to be reassigned to some backwater out of the public eye because Emory was embarrassed. Instead, Insel resigned from Yerkes to take over as head of Emory’s Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. The CBN was started with a whopping $40 million grant from the National Institute of Health — one of the largest such grants ever awarded. As Insel noted in an interview, the Emory neuroscience center is probably the biggest program of its kind in the United States. If anything, Insel’s move to CBN was a promotion and returned him to concentrate on his primary interest, neuroscience.

Maybe where Barnes is from being appointed to head up the largest center in the United States dedicated to your specialty qualifies as being “quickly reassigned . . . to other duties,” but the rest of us should be so lucky.


AIDS vaccine researchers turn from chimps to monkeys. Paul Smaglik, The Scientist, 13[16]:7, Aug. 16, 1999.

(GA) animal abuser’s wife at Commerce Club. Jean Barnes, E-mail, March 25, 2002.

Yerkes chief steps down for new post. M.A.J. McKenna, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, October 16, 1999.

Why do Voles Fall in Love? Emory Magazine, Spring 1999.

Atlanta’s Medical Mile: AIDS, Neuroscience Center Ready To Open. M.A.J. McKenna, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, October 3, 1999.

Insel leaves Yerkes post to head neuroscience center. Emory Report, October 25, 1999.

New techniques show the power of a single gene. The Dana Brain Daybook, September/October 1999.

Does Jean Barnes Even Read Her Press Releases?

In October 2001, Jean Barnes of In Defense of Animals released a couple of press releases related to the Yerkes Primate Center at Emory University that were as bizarre as they were absurd.

On October 5, Barnes sent out a press release screaming “Busted: Homophobe at Yerkes . . .” Barnes accused Yerkes researcher Kim Wallen of “see[ing] tran-sexuals and homosexuals as ill” and added that “Fred Phelps would be pleased.” What is the source of such remarks? Barnes has conducted research into gender assignment in primates, rats, and other species, including research into the role that exposure to testosterone and testosterone antagonists plays in the socialization and development of non-human primates. According to Barnes, then, merely studying gender assignment is homophobic.

On October 11, Barnes sent out an other press release blaring that “Coca-Cola Wants Distance from Emory University’s Failed Animal Experiments,” in which she claimed that “The Coca-Cola Company is apparently attempting to distance itself form the demonstrated cruel and useless experiments currently being conducted at Emory University and Emory’s Yerkes Primate Center.”

Barnes’ argument in this case was hilarious. Apparently Barnes and others sent inquiries to The Coca-Cola Company asking them to stop supporting the Yerkes Primate Center. Coca-Coal sent back a form reply saying,

Thank you for contacting the Coca-Cola Company.

You had express your concerns regarding the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center. We have researched our donations and do not have any records of making any direct contribution to their research efforts.

Barnes still can’t get her through her head that there is a difference between setting up a $5 billion endowment for Emory University — which Coca-Cola has done — and giving money directly to the Yerkes Primate Facility. Barnes might pick an Emory University student at random — say John Doe — and then write a letter to Coca-Cola demanding to know why they are financially supporting John Doe’s education!


Coca-Cola Wants Distance from Emory University’s Failed Animal Experiments. Jean Barnes, Press Release, In Defense of Animals, October 11, 2001.

Busted: Homophobe at Yerkes . . . Jean Barnes, Press Release, In Defense of Animals, October 5, 2001.

American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Threatens to Sue In Defense of Animals

The American-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta, Georgia, recently threatened to sue animal rights group In Defense of Animals in a dispute over a web site that In Defense of Animals maintains, EmoryLies.Com.

The web site targets Emory University and the Yerkes Primate Center, which In Defense of Animals wants to shut down. Probably because it is a high profile target, the group has lately been targeting Coca-Cola in its dispute over the primate facility. Although the company has nothing at all to do with the primate facility, it has donated more than $100 million to Emory University.

On October 11, 2001, the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is to highlight and encourage economic ties between the United States and Israel, plans to hold an awards ceremony at Coca-Cola’s world headquarters honoring “people and companies who have made a significant impact on business between the Southeast and Israel.”

In Defense of Animals plans to protest at the meeting and has posted information about their protest on the EmoryLies.Com, both of which are perfectly legal. But they have crossed a line in expropriating artwork from the AICC site and placed it on the EmoryLies.Com site in a way that would probably fool a reasonable person.

Judge for yourself. Here’s the real page from the AICC announcing its awards ceremony:

Now, here’s the page from EmoryLies.Com announcing their protest:

The overall effect here is clearly to make it appear as if the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce is somehow involved with or in support of IDA’s actions against Coca-Cola.

IDA released a press release claiming that the lawsuit would go the same route as a lawsuit filed by Stephens Inc. against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. SHAC had used the logo and web site design from Stephens web site to parody Stephens. They used the logo, for example, but added the words “Invest in animal cruelty.” A judge threw out the lawsuit, saying that this was protected under the First Amendment.

But the situation is very different with IDA since it has made no effort to distinguish the AICC materials as a parody. I suspect that Jean Barnes, who apparently created the site, will find herself on the losing end of this lawsuit.


American-Israel Chamber of Commerce threatens legal action against web site exposing bad science and animal cruelty. In Defense of Animals, Press Release, August 21, 2001.

Animal activists ready for fight–attorney retained. In Defense of Animals, Press Release, August 21, 2001.

More Hypocrisy from In Defense of Animals

Primate researcher Stuart Zola was recently hired as the new director for the Yerkes Regional Primate Center at Emory University. Zola has long been a target of animal rights activists because of his research efforts: has been at the forefront of studying the structures in the brain which account for memory. As he notes on his University of California-San Diego faculty web site,

During the course of our work, we have successfully established a model of human amnesia in the monkey, and we have been able to identify a neural system of memory in the temporal lobe that includes the hippocampal region (i.e., dentate gyrus, the hippocampus proper, and subicular complex) and adjacent cortical regions, i.e., entorhinal, perirhinal, and parahippocampal cortices.

Shortly after he was named the new director at Yerkes, In Defense of Animals decided to kick their ongoing campaign against the primate facility into high gear by making an appearance near Zola’s new home. They distributed a flier showing a monkey held in restraints and said that since 1992 Zola had received almost $2 million in federal grants “to cut up the brains of monkeys.”

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution interviewed IDA’s Jean Barnes who had her ignorance and hypocrisy in fine form.

For example, the paper reports that Barnes objected to Zola’s research noting that despite all of his research, “we’ve still got cancer.” I’m not quite clear on how Barnes thinks research into the memory structures in the brain is supposed to lead to a cancer cure. And, of course, Barnes conveniently forgets that while cancer has not been eliminated, thanks to animal research there are now more effective treatments for many specific forms of cancer as well as much better early detection methods.

But it’s Barnes’ blatant hypocrisy about targeting Zola at his home that really jumps off the pages of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. IDA plans not only to continue harassing Zola in his neighborhood, but also plans to distribute fliers to employees of Coca Cola claiming their company is supporting the “atrocities” at Yerkes. Coca Cola has nothing at all to do with the primate facility, but it is a large donor to Emory University.

For someone so willing to harass other people, however, Barnes jealously guards her own privacy,

Jean Barnes keeps some details to herself, too. In particular, she doesn’t want to reveal where she works, fearing that Emory would pressure her employer to muzzle her, or worse.

Barnes helps IDA posts the names, photos, home addresses, and telephone numbers of Yerkes researchers, but then cowardly hides behind her own veil of secrecy.


Yerkes foes get up close and personal. Alan Judd, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, August 3, 2001.

Stuart Zola faculty web page. Stuart Zola, University of California-San Diego.