Chants of “shame on you” and “Cambridge University – animal torturers” echoed across King's Parade, as demonstrators from across the country took to the streets of Cambridge to protest the University’s use of animal testing. The rally was a part of the World Week of Action for Animals in Laboratories, with similar events taking place across the UK.
Cambridge became a focal point of action, as one protestor, who had travelled from Leicester said, “Cambridge University is one of the major places where [animal testing] happens” with the University testing on 170,000 animals in 2013 alone.
However, the number of protestors fell short of the 500 predicted by organisers and the 1,000 “attending” the event on Facebook, with the Police estimating that 300 took part. Nonetheless, many protestors were pleased with the event, with one saying that it was “a great success”.
One protestor, Harry Jones, a student at Corpus Christi College and a member of the Cambridge University Vegan Society, told The Cambridge Student that “Cambridge, as a forward-thinking university really needs to rethink what they’re putting funding into … They’re being presented with … all these other alternatives … they should set an example for the future.”
Bystanders seemed similarly supportive of the protest, saying "If all these things are true then this protest is really nice.” One Cambridge graduand, whose ceremony was today, said that the march had caused some events to be rescheduled and postponed. However, he did not resent the protestors, saying, “It’s an important problem and the protest should help draw public attention.”
Yet some onlookers denigrated the waste of public resources, as 50 police were in attendance, saying “It was a fucking waste of police money.” Nonetheless, a police spokesperson said: "Cambridgeshire Constabulary fully supports people's right to peaceful protest.”
The University had also taken some security measures against the protestors, locking gates to University buildings on the march route. College porters were also informed of the protest in advance and many locked entrances to college buildings, citing protesters breaking windows in the past. Private security were also present along the route, though it was unknown who hired them.
This is not the first time this year that Cambridge has come under scrutiny because of animal testing. In February, plans for a new AstraZeneca animal-testing lab in Cambridge were approved, despite major opposition.