When it comes to exploiting animals, Elon Musk is a true leader. His latest repetitive and pointless endeavor involves SpaceX—of which Musk is the founder, CEO, and chief engineer—and 128 baby glow-in-the-dark bobtail squids as well as 5,000 tardigrades (aka “water bears”). These animals will be sent to the International Space Station, where they’ll be further experimented on, all in the name of “research.”
News of the squids’ and tardigrades’ doomed trip followed a similar December stunt, in which mice—some of whom had first been injected with drugs at The Jackson Laboratory, causing their muscle mass to double unnaturally—were launched aboard a SpaceX rocket. These experiments and the slew mentioned below are cruel wastes of time, with no relevance to astronauts or other humans.
In a separate experiment, Musk implanted a computer chip in a monkey’s skull, apparently to see if the animal could “play video games using his mind.” He claimed that the monkey “looks totally happy,” but he’s no primatologist. If he were, he’d never suggest that an animal strapped to a chair with a metal device implanted in his skull and forced to watch video games all day would be anything but miserable.
This monkey is the latest victim of cruel experiments carried out by Neuralink, another of Musk’s companies. In August 2020, Musk introduced Gertrude—one of several pigs used—during a webcast demonstration. The experiment involved implanting coin-sized computer chips in pigs’ brains in order to attempt to demonstrate that brainwaves can be tracked.
One clip showed a pig forced to trot on a treadmill. Giant notches had been cut in her ears, just as is done to pigs on filthy farms without painkillers. Aware that there would be backlash against his use of pigs, Musk used a PR reel to claim that he and his staff care about animals. But no amount of “humane washing” can cover up the cruelty, speciesism, and bad science that underlie all such experiments.
PETA challenges Musk to behave like a true pioneer and have the implants put into his own brain instead.
Attempts to connect human brains to the internet shouldn’t come at the expense of pigs or monkeys—our fellow Earthlings—who feel pain, fear, and confusion and deserve consideration. Scientifically, Musk’s demos didn’t show anything that hasn’t been shown before. Like most of his supposed breakthroughs have been, they were long on hype and short on evidence that what he was predicting can actually happen.
Smart, sensitive pigs deserve far more than a few pats on the head and a cell lined with straw—they should be left in peace to socialize, play, make nests, and relax in the sun. The intelligent monkey whose mutilation Musk admittedly oversaw should be free to live with his troop members, scamper along tree branches, and forage for fruit, flowers, nectar, and other tasty foods in his natural habitat—not be imprisoned inside a lab and used as a test subject.
Involuntary brain surgery and denying Gertrude and other pigs their natural lives as individuals is speciesism, not science. pic.twitter.com/36RBYrjpkU
— PETA (@peta) September 1, 2020
Might doesn’t make right: From outfitting cars to experimenting with brainwaves, Musk must know that there are ethical ways to achieve his goals—and exploiting animals in experiments isn’t one of them.
Pigs and Monkeys Are Just Like Us
Pigs are known to dream, recognize their own names, memorize complicated routes, and lead complex social lives. Humans who run animal sanctuaries that include pigs note that they’re like us in many ways: They enjoy listening to music, playing with soccer balls, and getting massages.
Monkeys have learned to use cameras and iPhones to look at themselves, indicating their self-awareness. They’re also empathic, unlike the speciesist humans who torment them. In many recorded instances, monkeys have risked their lives to help others.