In the summer of 1981, one of PETA's founders,
a student named Alex Pacheco, set out to gain some experience in a laboratory
and began working undercover at the Institute for Behavioral Research (IBR). IBR was a federally funded laboratory in Silver Spring,
Maryland, run by psychologist and animal experimenter Edward Taub, a man with
no medical training. There, Pacheco found 17 monkeys living in tiny wire cages
that were caked with years of accumulated feces. A rotting stench permeated the
air of the cramped, dungeon-like room, and urine and rust encrusted every
The monkeys were subjected to debilitating
surgeries in which their spinal nerves were severed, rendering one or more of
their limbs useless. Through the use of electric shock, food deprivation, and other
methods, the monkeys were forced to try to regain the use of their impaired
limbs or go without food. In one experiment, monkeys were kept immobile in a
dark chamber made out of a converted refrigerator and then repeatedly shocked
until they finally used their disabled arm. The inside of the refrigerator was
covered with blood. In another experiment, monkeys were strapped into a crude restraint
chair—their waist, ankles, wrists, and neck held in place with packing tape—and
pliers were latched as tightly as possible onto their skin, including onto their testicles.
The trauma of the monkeys' imprisonment and
treatment was so severe that many of them had ripped at their own flesh, and they
had lost many of their fingers from catching them in the rusted, jagged cage
often neglected to feed the monkeys, and the
animals would desperately pick through the waste beneath their cages to find
something to eat.
PETA gathered meticulous log notes detailing what
was happening inside IBR and secretly photographed the crippled monkeys and their
horrendous living conditions. Then, after lining up expert witnesses and
showing them around the laboratory at night, PETA took the evidence to the
police—and an intense, decade-long battle for custody of the monkeys ensued.
This groundbreaking investigation led to the
nation's first arrest and criminal conviction of an animal experimenter for
cruelty to animals, the first confiscation of abused animals from a laboratory,
and the first U.S. Supreme Court victory for animals used in experiments. It
even led to landmark additions to the Animal Welfare Act—and unrelenting public
scrutiny of the abuse that animals endure in experimentation.
PETA has scored many victories for animals in laboratories since the landmark
Silver Spring monkeys case, but tragically, experiments like this still go on.
You can help by asking
your congressional representatives to divert public money
from cruel animal experiments into promising, lifesaving, and relevant clinical
and non-animal research.
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.