Written by Jeff Mackey
For more than two decades, experimenters at the National
Institute on Aging (NIA, part of the National Institutes of Health) and the
University of Wisconsin–Madison
(UW–Madison) starved caged
monkeys—depriving them of a whopping 30 percent of needed calories—to see if
this would increase their longevity. Now, the vivisectors at NIA have announced that the extreme, prolonged deprivation had no
effect on the monkeys' life span.
The NIA studies, funded by taxpayers, started in 1987, and
the UW–Madison studies
began in 1989. At both facilities—and also at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, where similar experiments are being conducted—the monkeys, in addition to being
kept chronically hungry in a semi-starved state, were imprisoned in tiny barren
cages and condemned to a lifetime of isolation, without even the simplest
benefit of any cage mates. As journalist Gina Kolata described in The New York Times:
For 25 years, the rhesus monkeys were kept
semi-starved, lean and hungry. The males' weights were so low they were the
equivalent of a 6-foot-tall man who tipped the scales at just 120 to 133
pounds. The hope was that if the monkeys lived longer, healthier lives by
eating a lot less, then maybe people, their evolutionary cousins, would, too.
When the studies at UW–Madison were first made public in 2009, PETA filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the university's egregious violations
of the Animal Welfare Act. In addition, PETA complained to the UW–Madison Institutional Animal
Care and Use Committee, but our concerns were dismissed.
Now, after decades of condemning intelligent, sensitive
monkeys to protracted suffering, the vivisectors have admitted that their
experiments not only failed to make their point but also were poorly designed:
The monkeys were fed a diet that was 28.5 percent sucrose (i.e., empty
calories). So, in addition to being ethically inexcusable, the experiments were
But no matter what the experimenters were trying to prove,
it was wrong to cage and starve these monkeys. All so-called "calorie-restriction
experiments" (that's vivisector lingo for "starving animals")
should be banned now. Primates are extremely intelligent animals who form
intricate social relationships, experience the same wide range of emotions that
we do, and exhibit a capacity for suffering similar to ours. Rhesus macaque
monkeys have been shown to use tools, count, and communicate complex
information. Monkeys can also express empathy, and they possess a sense of
fairness—something that many experimenters seem to lack.
Ssppeeeeddyy|cc by 2.0
We each have a role to play in helping monkeys and other
primates suffering in laboratories. Please urge the federal government to stop wasting
our tax dollars on cruel and pointless experiments on animals.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.