NEW HAVEN -- At the tail end of the lunch hour, Chelsea Rhodes wrinkled her mouse nose and swiped at an itchy place behind her ears from inside a four-foot-high chicken wire cage planted Tuesday on the corner of George and College streets, spitting distance from a Yale University administration building.
"I'm a caged animal, a lab mouse who is being forced to participate in nicotine experiments to see how nicotine affects neurotransmitters in the brain," Rhodes said. When the researchers are "done with me, what they'll do is drill holes in my brain, then decapitate me to see what they can find."
Some pedestrians gave Rhodes the thumbs up -- among them were a Yale University medical school professor, who declined to give her name, and a marketing specialist.
"I like how she's in that cage because it represents that each animal deserves to live its life without being subjected to future torture," said Harry Watley, who works in the advertising industry. "It's needless pain and suffering. It's like what the federal government did to blacks at Tuskeegee. It's what the Germans did to the Jews in the Holocaust."
Gabriel Rocha, a student at the Yale School of Medicine who was an Army medic for four years, listened to the protesters, but walked away unconvinced by them.
"My feeling on this is for every animal life that's being taken by this research, humankind still is being benefited one-hundredfold," Rocha said. "A rat's life, I'm not sorry to say, is not equivalent to a human life. There's a place for research and there's a place for animal rights. And I've seen nothing that would convince me that Yale causes its research animals to suffer needlessly."