The anguish of animal research

It starts out ominously. “By day three, he knew the monkeys were going to die.”

Ebola virus vaccine research has taken tremendous patience–and a lot of monkeys’ lives. This Washington Post story describes the drama of how scientists whose passion for finding an answer keeps them doggedly pursuing this dangerous research–wearing clumsy protective blue plastic suits pumped full of non-deadly air and working with gloved hands. No conversation. Just follow the procedures.

The description of watching the monkeys succumb to the horrible virus is painful to read. I cannot but imagine that the researchers feel the same sadness as you or I might, and sometimes must struggle in their hearts over killing these fellow creatures.

But perhaps some of them may be like the Indian in the opening scene of–I think it was–The Last of the Mohicans. As the movie opens, the camera is the eye of the Indian brave out hunting. It follows along as a deer moves through the nearby trees. When the deer pauses to listen, the camera watches as the brave raises his bow and draws back the arrow. He steadies his aim, and we hear his thoughts speak a reverent prayer:

“Forgive me, my brother. I bless you and thank you for sharing your flesh to sustain me.”