US Monkey Named After David Rudisha, Athlete Responds

  • David Rudisha at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 31, 2014
    David Rudisha at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 31, 2014
    File
  • World Record Holder in the 800-metre race David Rudisha on Thursday, May 14, was taken aback by reports alleging that the United States Department of Health had named a monkey after him.

    On Thursday, May 14, the 2-time Olympic Champion responded to a tweet by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an American animal rights organisation based in Virginia, US, which shared a video of the monkey in a cage, with the name Rudisha tagged on the door.

    "Is it true?" Rudisha tweeted.

    David Rudisha's name tagged on a monkey's cage at the National Institutes of Health, US
    David Rudisha's name tagged on a monkey's cage at the National Institutes of Health, US
    File

    On May 7, PETA questioned the decision by the National Institute of Health (NIH)' to name the monkey Rudisha, adding that it was being mistreated.

    NIH is one of the world's foremost medical research centres. 

    "Sad News. The government-funded experimenters named a monkey after you (Rudisha) and are torturing them with cruel fright experiments. This is Rudisha," the tweet reads.

    In fright experiments, brain-damaged monkeys are reportedly terrified with snakes and spiders to see how they react. The researchers claim that the experiments shed light on human neuropsychiatric disorders. 

    Some monkeys respond defensively—freezing or looking or turning away. Others shake their cage. The experiment reportedly costs $36 million (approximately Ksh 3 billion)

    PETA further urged Rudisha to protect his naming rights and join them in urging NIH to stop the experiments.

    However, the organisation's effort to protect human rights have been numerously been questioned and it has also been served with various lawsuits. In 2018, it was sued for allegedly euthanising an animal, with reports arguing that it euthanise hundreds of animals each year.

    In 2019, it was sued for hatred of pet ownership by PetSmart, an American retail chain. A report by BBC in September 2019 also reported that one of PETA's advert was banned for being "misleading". The organisation had run an advertisement which claimed that sheep's wool was just as cruel as fur. 

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK received 10 complaints which said sheep shearing was vital for sheep's' health so couldn't be compared to fur.

    The action by NIH evoked mixed reactions among Rudisha's fans, with some urging him to dissociate with PETA.

    "David, to whom are you addressing the question to? Get your manager and people to call their people. ASAP. This is unacceptable!" one netizen urged.

    "But Rudisha is a Swahili term and not your name. Your names are David Lekuta Rudisha. Relax," another added. 

    "PETA is full of controversies and lies. Do not associate with them. This is bait, they want you to look like them," Benson Gichuru advised. 

    Efforts to reach the athlete for comment, on whether he would sue for name rights, or the implied racism, or further join in the animal protection fight were futile as he was unavailable. 

    A monkey caged at the National Institutes of Health, US, facilities
    A monkey caged at the National Institutes of Health, US, facilities
    File
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