Video: Primates Subjected to Decades of Isolation Self-Mutilate in Barren Cages

For Immediate Release:

25 June 2020


Sascha Camilli +44 (0) 20 7923 6244; [email protected]

Video: Primates Subjected to Decades of Isolation Self-Mutilate in Barren Cages

PETA US Lawsuit Uncovers Video That University Tried to Keep Secret

London – Today, after a two-year open records fight followed by a lawsuit, PETA US has released video footage obtained from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass) showing deeply distressed monkeys isolated in small metal cages, pacing endlessly, tearing out their own hair, and even poking their thumbs into their own eye sockets.

The studies – recorded at UMass and four primate centres in the US and assessed at UMass – were ostensibly done to study how monkeys mutilate themselves while caged in laboratories, but after dozens of published journal articles, not a single improvement has been mandated to help these long-suffering animals.

“If you’ve felt the stress of temporarily being confined to your own home, try to relate to monkeys who are driven to the point of insanity in small cages for their entire lives,” says PETA Science Policy Manager Dr Julia Baines. “Experimenters at taxpayer-funded national primate research centres in the US must stop creating trauma simply to study it, and the use of monkeys must end now.”

PETA US filed a records request in 2017 to obtain videos related to a study overseen by a UMass experimenter as part of a project called “Self-Injurious Behavior and Primate Well-Being,” which cost more than $2.1 million in taxpayer funds. The request was denied by UMass. PETA US then filed the lawsuit in March 2019. Following more than 30 years of conducting hideous experiments on primates, the experimenter suddenly retired after PETA US filed its suit.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – notes that the primate species most commonly used in laboratories include rhesus macaques, crab-eating macaques, baboons, squirrel monkeys, and marmosets. In their natural habitats, these monkeys may travel for miles, foraging for a variety of foods, socialising with family and friends, and engaging in various other activities such as climbing, swimming, and caring for their babies. In laboratories, they’re often caged alone, prevented from engaging in the social interaction that they so desperately need in order to thrive and deprived of any meaningful control over their lives.

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