The Depraved Career of Ned Kalin, Monkey Tormenter

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4 min read

Ned Kalin is an experimenter at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC). By his industry’s standards, he’s “good” at his job, which involves harming monkeys both psychologically and physically. He’s done it for 40 years, supported by tens of millions of our tax dollars.

Ned Kalin Uses Live Snakes to Torment Monkeys

Cornelius is a 10-year-old monkey held at WNPRC, and PETA’s undercover investigator met him earlier in 2020. Confined to a small cage, he was consistently slumped over, looking down, or leaning his head against the cage door. Each moment appeared to last an eternity for him. Thanks to Kalin, Cornelius’ spirit was entirely broken.

ned kalin experiments on monkeys

Kalin used Cornelius in a project called “Neural Circuitry of Emotion.” In this project (which used hundreds and perhaps thousands of monkeys), he cut into monkeys’ skulls, injected toxic agents into their brains, and then either suctioned out or burned portions of the tissue. He used infant monkeys as young as a week old in some experiments, while subjecting others to blood draws, painful cerebrospinal fluid draws, and skin biopsies.

The monkeys then endured a battery of cruel behavioral tests, including a fright test in which the animals are caged and tormented with things they find frightening. Experimenters often use rubber snakes for this, but not Kalin. He preferred live snakes, claiming that rubber snakes “do not elicit as reliable or robust fear response” from the monkeys.

Ned Kalin Records the Cries of Baby Monkeys

In one experiment, Kalin held rhesus monkeys in restraint chairs for 48 hours straight and collected their cerebrospinal fluid through a plastic tube. He has also separated infant monkeys from their mothers to record the babies’ “distress vocalizations.”

For those not fluent in euphemisms, “distress vocalizations” = screams and cries.

Monkeys Must Participate or Go Hungry

Kalin also straps monkeys into a restraint chair and then bombards them with sensory assaults—including sounds as loud as a chainsaw, dizzying arrays of light, and puffs of air spurted at their eyes—just to see what startles them.

If monkeys play along with his cruelty, they get to eat. If they don’t, “normal daily food rations will be gradually reduced,” he says.

Scare the Baby Monkeys and Watch Them Cry

In 1989, Kalin co-created the “human intruder test,” a test as callous as it is now ubiquitous among monkey tormentors. In it, infant monkeys are taken away from their mothers and put alone inside a cage in a testing room. A human “intruder” enters the room, stands in profile to the cage, and later makes direct eye contact—a gesture that monkeys consider threatening. The infants cry out in distress, try to escape, shake the cage, grimace in fear, or freeze in place.

Ned Kalin Is Part of a Cabal of Cruelty

Kalin’s experiments follow a well-worn path blazed for him by the infamous University of Wisconsin monkey tormenter Harry Harlow, whose experiments in emotional deprivation were so cruel that even his colleagues objected. Harlow is known as the driving force behind the “pit of despair,” a dark metal box designed to isolate monkeys from everything in the outside world, and the “rape rack,” which was used to restrain and impregnate female monkeys.

Kalin’s experiments build on Harlow’s work. In one experiment, he subjected 40 monkeys to tests “intended to provoke and measure anxious behavior” for a full year and then killed them.

Kalin is also pals with Elisabeth Murray, also a maven of monkey terror. Murray advised him on the best way to cut into monkeys’ skulls, a skill that he clearly appreciates. He thanked her publicly for this in a 2010 paper.

Tax Dollars Doled Out Despite Objections to Kalin’s Cruelty

Since 1985, Kalin has received more than $44 million in taxpayer money, doled out by the National Institutes of Health to continue experiments that make even his colleagues uncomfortable. “There are other things that have been done that are worse, but that’s not a justification for saying that this isn’t really really bad,” said Rob Streiffer, one of Kalin’s colleagues at UW, to WisconsinWatch. We couldn’t agree more.

What You Can Do

Thousands of compassionate people have already joined PETA in calling for an end to Kalin’s horrific experiments on animals. You can join them. Sending a message takes less than a minute—what are you waiting for?

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