Here's the synopsis: "The investigation into a professor's death takes a dangerous turn when the team finds their lead suspect has ties to a radical animal rights group."
The episode opens with these numbers:
- 50 million to 100 million experimental animals
- 1,088 research labs
- 51 animal rights extremist groups
- 1,440 criminal acts
However, the show needed a murder for its FBI character to solve, so a researcher at a university is accidentally killed during an open rescue. Dogs and mice are released from cages, but the effects of animal torture are not shown. The producers seemed to think they could be implied by showing one dog and several mice in e-cones, the cones your vet puts on a dog to prevent him from pulling out his stitches.
And, of course, the animals were being used to study post-traumatic stress disorder, avian flu and cures for HIV, malaria and coronary disease. Nothing as ridiculous as nicotine addiction or shampoos. However, torture is torture.
"Domestic terrorism" is mentioned once when the FBI agents are discussing what the perpetrators could be charged with.
A fictitious group Animal Rights Rebels is said to "believe in animals and arson" and "call themselves eco-terrorists." While some real groups do believe in property destruction, I've never known any animal-rights advocates or environmentalists to refer to themselves as eco-terrorists. In fact, Will Potter in his blog "Green Is the New Red" contends that the true eco-terrorists are the people destroying the Earth, not the ones who want to protect it.
Overall, I could see that the producers of "Numb3rs" had tried to present both sides of the animal-experimentation debate. But, perhaps given the medium (network television), they didn't show the true face of experimentation.
For example, one character did research on Macaque monkeys. Britches is a real Macaque "who was born into a breeding colony at the University of California, Riverside in March 1985."
He was removed from his mother at birth and had his eyelids sewn shut as part of a three-year maternal and sensory-deprivation study involving 24 infant monkeys.The Animal Liberation Front raided the laboratory in April 1985, when Britches was 5 weeks old. He and 700 other animals were rescued.
Activists found Britches alone in a cage with bandages around his eyes and a sonar device attached to his head that emitted a high-pitched screech every few minutes. He was clinging to a device, covered in towelling, that had two fake nipples attached, apparently intended to serve as a surrogate mother.A character at the end of "Numb3rs" said animal experimentation is a complicated ethical dilemma. For those who see the torture that these animals have to endure, the answer seems pretty simple.
(Photos of Britches courtesy of Britches.org.uk.)