The Agony-Filled Lives and Miserable Deaths of Monkeys in Murray’s Lab

Published by Keith Brown.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) experimenter Elisabeth Murray used a monkey named Chaplin and five others to death so she could publish a paper probing these not-so-burning questions: Would the monkeys attribute feelings to animated shapes on a video screen? Would they interpret shapes bumping into each other as “fighting” or, maybe, “mocking”? She snuffed out the lives of numerous monkeys for this mockery of scientific investigation.

Murray’s experiments are ridiculous almost beyond imagination and easily skewered, which we’ve done. But there are very real consequences for living, breathing, sensitive beings while she plays U.S. taxpayers for fools in a long con funded by NIH, bilking them of more than $50 million to continue the suffering of these monkeys who lived, were tormented daily, and died—all for one woman’s hubris.

We know about Chaplin and the others only from federal records, but it’s enough to show that they were regarded as nothing more than experimental tools with expiration dates and no value beyond Murray’s aspirations.

Chaplin (April 5, 2011–December 18, 2020)

Chaplin—born more than a century after Charlie Chaplin, his silent-film star namesake—arrived at Murray’s laboratory when he was just shy of 3 years old, already suffering from hair loss on his legs. He spent more than 16 years in Murray’s lab, all of it in solitary confinement.

A couple of months after Chaplin arrived at Murray’s lab, a titanium pole, called a headpost, was surgically implanted in his skull. But Murray and her staff couldn’t get this mutilation right—they left it implanted incorrectly for eight months before removing it. A month later, it was replaced. This second one was removed and a third one implanted six months later. Chaplin suffered from bacterial infections around the headpost a couple of times and bruising around the incision on his head as well as on his face and the back of his neck.

Experimenters killed Chaplin in December 2020, with a headpost still attached to his skull.

Chaplin suffered from hair loss on approximately 73% of his body—a sign of extreme stress. At various times during his last 20 months of life, he lost hair over 81% to 100% of his body.

He was found slumped and lethargic in his cage, watery feces coating the cage walls and floor. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was euthanized the next day.

Other monkeys used in Murray’s absurd animated shapes experiment—Lloyd, Hightop, Skyline, Spitler, and Chaney—endured similarly reprehensible treatments. Here are some examples:

Lloyd

During his first surgery to implant a headpost, Lloyd vomited green bile. Staff cleaned his mouth and continued with the surgery. Understandably, he never got used to a metal pole protruding from his head and would scratch at it. He would have surgery four more times to close wounds or repair stitches.

Lloyd once bit his lower lip and scratched his nose while in a restraint chair. The next day, staff noticed that he was missing a tooth and the area was bloody. He was given ibuprofen. Later that afternoon, his canine tooth was found in the room.

Hightop

Staff deemed Hightop’s birthdate unimportant, according to the documentation, which notes it only as “N/A.” He lived in solitary confinement from 2011 until his death eight years later, on December 4, 2019. Records indicate he was sedated seven times for various procedures, including headpost surgery and tooth extraction. He had a vasectomy in November 2004 and, curiously, a “vasectomy re-do” 14 months later. He suffered from hair loss on 73% of his body.

Withholding Water

Experimenters also subjected Chaplin and all the other monkeys to severe water deprivation over several years. In Murray’s animation experiments, staff deprived the monkeys of water and doled out mere drops of juice if—and only if—the monkeys looked at certain points on a video screen. This led to numerous medical problems for all the monkeys, including the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss, sometimes extreme
  • Numerous incidents in which monkeys refused to eat the dry, drywall-like biscuits they were given to eat, sometimes for days on end
  • Numerous incidents in which monkeys vomited in cages
  • Numerous notations of dry and/or infrequent stools

It’s Not Science—It’s Violence

Murray is NIH’s reigning queen of monkey torture. She’s made a career out of conning the U.S. taxpayer into believing that what she subjects sensitive monkeys to is somehow important or effective. What she does isn’t science—it’s violence. And it must stop.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind