James Cromwell, who starred in the 1995 film Babe
, has sent a personal letter to Mark Richardson, dean of Oregon Health & Science University's School of Medicine, requesting that he “end the use of live pigs in the medical student physiology course.”
“I have seen firsthand that pigs are highly intelligent, social animals…very sensitive animals,” Cromwell writes. “Experiences like those I had on the set of the film Babe
have reinforced for me just how complex pigs are.”
Even if the pigs at OHSU aren't as complex as Babe, a talking pig who wanted to be a dog, Cromwell still opposes what he considers OHSU's “inhumane treatment of animals."
OHSU has thus far resisted attempts by animal rights groups like the Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine (which bought a billboard ad
in downtown Portland to put pressure on OHSU) and In Defense of Animals to force it to stop using the pigs, citing the educational benefits of using them.
Of Cromwell's letter, OHSU spokesman Jim Newman says, "We take his letter just as seriously as we would from any other concerned member of the public," adding that Cromwell sent the same letter to schools like the Medical College of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins.
But the stepped-up pressure seems to be taking its toll.
Newman now says that OHSU is planning to "re-evaluate the lab again this year to see if superior options exist."