Mowgli, a young rhesus macaques, was transferred to University Medical Center from the University of Connecticut in October 2006, where he was the only one of three monkeys to survive a controversial research experiment.
Protesters were mostly silent in Jackson Monday, but their signs spoke volumes. Their goal is to save one monkey, Mowgli, from what they say is a certain death at UMC.
"Mowgli will not be able to leave alive unless we save him," said Memphis area animal rights activist, Brenda Bostick.
The activists say Mowgli will face invasive, traumatic experiments on his brain and eyes at UMC, this after suffering abuse at another research lab at the University of Connecticut. It was shut down amid a federal investigation.
"He had a choke collar made out of chain link and it was tightened so tight that his eyes bled," Bostick said.
Activists have raised enough money to cover the cost of transporting Mowgli to an animal sanctuary. But UMC has no plans to hand him over.
In a written statement, UMC said:
"The monkey is in excellent health. Like all animals owned by the medical center, he receives daily care by a well-trained veterinary staff."
UMC went on to say its animal research complies with strict federal guidelines.
We wanted a chance to look at Mowgli for ourselves, to see if he's as healthy as UMC says, but the hospital denied our request. The activists now shift their efforts to raising public awareness. Monday's protest turned on a few passersby to the movement to free Mowgli.
"Education is the key if nobody knows. Things like this need to be brought into the sunlight," said Charles Coburn, an animal rights activist.
"We just want Jackson to know where their tax dollars are going. Your federal and state tax dollars support this type of experimentation," said Bostick.
Experimentation, these protesters say, is cruel and unnecessary.
The effort to free Mowgli is led by a graduate student at the University of Connecticut. He says, so far, he's collected several thousand signatures supporting Mowgli's release.