Yesterday, PETA filed a lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW) for alleged violations of the Wisconsin Public Records Law. UW has refused to provide PETA with information related to the university’s invasive and deadly taxpayer-funded eye-movement experiments on monkeys and cats. UW completely denied PETA access to some records, such as videos of experiments and complaints about potential violations of the law, and redacted important information from other documents that were provided.
In the experiments, holes are drilled into animals’ skulls; recording chambers and restraint posts are bolted to their heads; electrodes are inserted into their brains; and stainless steel coils are implanted in their eyes. Some cats have even had their ears cut off. Monkeys and cats are typically immobilized in restraint devices in dark rooms for hours at a time and coerced into following visual or auditory targets with their eyes. At the end of the experiment, many of the animals are killed, and their brains are removed and dissected. UW continues to conduct these experiments despite their inherent cruelty, irrelevance to human health, and the fact that safe, sophisticated, and accurate human-based methods for studying brain activity related to eye movement are available and can take measurements down to the single neuron.
UW has a horrendous history of violating federal animal welfare laws, and the school’s refusal to release public information makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to track patterns of animal abuse and noncompliance.
And there’s plenty of reason to be concerned. It was recently revealed that last year, the university suspended Michelle Basso, a vivisector who conducts eye-movement experiments on monkeys, because of her long history of abusing and neglecting monkeys—a history that dates back to 2003. Basso repeatedly performed sloppy surgeries that caused brain damage and bleeding, ignored advice from veterinarians, and left sick and injured animals unattended and untreated. Not only did it take UW six years to take serious action, but even after all that, Basso has had her permission to experiment on animals reinstated. And who can forget UW’s illegal killing of sheep in painful decompression experiments?
There are thousands of animals’ skeletons in UW’s closet, and we intend to shed light on them all.
Written by Logan Scherer