UMass Tries to Hide Public Records—PETA Says, ‘We’ll See You in Court’

Published by Evelyn Wagaman.

The University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass) doesn’t want you to see what is done to small marmoset monkeys imprisoned in experimenter Agnès Lacreuse’s laboratory—so much so that it would appear the school is willing to break public records laws in order to try to hide the truth. PETA has just filed a lawsuit with Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts to compel the university to release records we had requested, which—in apparent violation of Massachusetts Public Records Law—UMass has so far failed to provide in full.

The records PETA requested from the university include photographs and video recordings that expose the gruesome reality for vulnerable marmosets in Lacreuse’s laboratory, where many of their most basic needs aren’t met and they’re denied control over their own bodies. Lacruese deprives these gentle animals of water to force their cooperation with “cognitive tests,” restrains them for hours at a time in a crude helmet-and-jacket system for neuroimaging, and gives them hormone-manipulating drugs. In other experiments she blasts them with sounds as loud as 90 decibels—roughly the volume of a lawnmower—dozens of times a night so that they can’t sleep. The profoundly social animals are also subjected to stressful social separation experiments and forced to watch videos designed to be upsetting.

Lacreuse cuts the ovaries out of female marmosets’ bodies and heats the monkeys with hand warmers up to 120 degrees in a crude attempt to mimic hot flashes associated with menopause—even though the animals are physiologically incapable of experiencing the condition. When experimenters are finally done with them, the monkeys are killed.

It appears that revealing this absurdity and cruelty to the public doesn’t rank high on UMass’ list of priorities, despite the school’s stated commitment to transparency in its animal experimentation program. So far, the university has produced only a fraction of the records we’ve requested, even though it has had, in some cases, more than a year to comply with the law—and the records released so far are a jumble of omissions and redactions.

Massachusetts residents have a right to know about the violence and abuse that their tax dollars are funding in UMass laboratories. PETA looks forward to receiving these records in full so that we can show the public how monkeys are exploited for Lacreuse’s cruel experiments.

Heard enough? You don’t need to wait for a judge’s ruling to help monkeys. Take action for gentle marmosets imprisoned in Lacreuse’s laboratory right now:

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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