Monkey business at LAX
Los Angeles International Airport had some unexpected company on Saturday as protestors, paparazzi, and even reality TV mogul Kim Kardashian made an appearance. In an effort to stamp out the vestiges of alleged airborne animal cruelty, members of Santa Monica College's resident animals rights activists joined forces with national animal rights organizations to protest the transportation of monkeys to testing facilities via Air France.
The Corsairs for Animal Rights and Ethics (C.A.R.E.) Club and Last Chance for Animals pooled resources to protest the aerial transport of primates for experiments in laboratories for various medical uses.
“Air France is now the last airline that continues to do this,"said SMC student Jenny Kotlyar. "It is hoped that through peaceful demonstrations at major airports around the world, we will be able to finally put an end to their 'monkey business.'”
According to the LAC website, Air France Board of Director's member, Jean-Francois Dehecq, is also the chairman for the Board of Directors of Sanofi-Aventis, a French pharmaceutical company that ranks the fifth-largest in prescription sales worldwide.
The LAC began protests against Air France in March and continue them at LAX every Saturday.
After staging years of protests, animal rights activists successfully stopped China Southern Airlines from flying primates into the United States earlier this year. According to PETA, The U.S. Department of Agriculture has fined China Southern $11,600 for illegally shipping 1,380 monkeys over a six-month period in 2013.
According to protestors, many primates are being transported by Air France in tiny wooden crates to testing facilities. They claim many of the animals die during the flight because of the stress it induces.
The group is boycotting the company until they decide to change their policies. Another tactic being utilized is the attempt to get people to sign a petition denouncing the practice.
With approximately 20 protesters, the animal activists also distributed flyers to incoming passengers in front of the Air France check-in stands, as well as right outside of the terminal.
Dressed in all black, protesters displayed shirts with “Boycott Air France” across the front, along with signs that read “Air France Flies monkeys to lab cruelty.”
Toward the end of the protest, professional paparazzi rushed the scene, and were waiting in front of the terminal, not to document the protest but instead, snap shots of Kardashian.
Kardashian, a passenger of Air France, stumbled onto the animal activists on accident as she exited the terminal. The chance to confront the pop culture icon was an opportunity not missed by protesters who bombarded the future bride of Kanye West.
The C.A.R.E Club was co-founded this semester by SMC student Lina Lopez, a communication studies major, and Andrea Castellanos, an environmental economics and policy major.
“C.A.R.E. club’s main goal is to promote the ethical treatment of animals amongst the student body and community through education, outreach, and activism,” said Castellanos, who also serves as club president.
The club, which now counts about 25 members, meets every Tuesday from 11:15 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. in the Liberal Arts building at SMC.