Former Baywatch star and model Pamela Anderson has accused All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) of animal cruelty, urging it to retire decades-old test monkeys and adopt humane practices.
Anderson, famous for slow-motion beach running scenes in the hit 1990s lifeguard TV show, wrote to R C Deka, director of AIIMS after watching a video allegedly exposing animal cruelty at the New Delhi centre.
"It broke my heart to see the suffering that is documented in the enclosed video", wrote Anderson, in a letter sent on behalf of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
"But the animals suffering behind closed doors at AIIMS must endure this nightmare every day."
In the letter, Anderson said dozens of monkeys are kept in "cramped, barren, and rusty cages for years on end," and appealed for the release of one monkey she said had been suffering at the research facility for nearly 20 years.
The former Playboy model says she cried while viewing the video, and described workers "slamming" animals against their wire cages and "taunting" the monkeys by pretending to kick them.
AIIMS officials said they had not received the letter and added the facility is "state of the art", Times of India reported.
More than 40 monkeys and other animals, including rabbits, mice and guinea pigs are caged at the institute and are used in trials for development of new drugs, the newspaper said.
Indian laboratories are required to rehabilitate animals after three years of research and to provide them with a clean habitat, PETA India said in a statement.