The research scientist accused of animal cruelty in the treatment of his laboratory monkeys testified yesterday in Montgomery County District Court that the animals had a "remarkable record of health" and were never abused.
Edward Taub, 50, the principal researcher at the Institute of Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, testified that he used a technique called "gentling" in working with the monkeys, because he believes a "positive relationship between experimenter and subject" is necessary for good research results.
The scientist's testimony climaxed a week-long trial in the case that has become a cause for the animal welfare movement and a matter of great concern to animal research scientists.
Taub and his assistant, John Kunz, have pleaded innocent to 15 counts of animal cruelty. They waived their right to a jury trial, and District Court Judge Stanley Klavan will determine the verdict. As the testimony ended yesterday Klavan ordered both sides to present written arguments in the case by Nov. 16. Klavan will render a verdict later. The misdemeanor charge carries a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail.
Taub, a bespectacled scientist, took the stand to explain his research and procedures, often in the style of a professor lecturing a class full of students.
Taub said that the monkeys received sufficient food, adequate shelter and proper treatment for their wounds. Prosecutors have charged that the monkeys mutilated their own arms and had wounds and other injuries to the arms that went untreated.
Taub testified that in his research the nerves controlling sensation to the monkeys' limbs are severed and sensation is abolished. "The monkey cannot feel pain," he testified.
The physiological psychologist said under cross-examination that he "totally" disagreed with testimony by two veterinarians who examined the animals and testified for the prosecution that at least four monkeys needed immediate veterinary care.
The prosecution had introduced about 70 photographs to back its allegations of animal mistreatment. Taub testified that some of those photographs appeared to have been "staged."