Two Monkeys Burned in a Federal Lab—PETA Demands Action

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3 min read

PETA is calling for an investigation after inept staffers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) improperly handled the simplest equipment, causing two squirrel monkeys to sustain agonizing burns.

Experimenters subjected two sensitive monkeys to a PET scan in order to capture images of their organs and tissues, according to a National Institutes of Health report obtained by PETA. During the procedure, they exposed the animals to a heat lamp and a wet blanket that likely caused the burns because they were either too close to the monkeys’ skin or too hot.

Squirrel monkey in tree branch

The heat lamp was so powerful that the body temperature of one of the monkeys rose to 107 degrees. Experimenters put the monkey through the scan anyway. Painful burns developed on the forearms of one monkey and on the back of the other, according to the report.

Inflicting Unnecessary Pain Calls For Imposing Necessary Consequences

Experimenters failed to pay attention to the temperature and function of the heat sources, and it wasn’t until after the monkeys were burned that staff thought to move the heat lamp to a safer location and replace the water blanket. The utterly avoidable agony inflicted on the victims also suggests that the laboratory’s animal oversight committee failed to review the experiment adequately and ensure proper equipment inspections.

PETA is urging NIDA to institute a zero-tolerance policy for staffers who don’t uphold even the most basic animal welfare guidelines and permanently bar them from contact with animals.

No Animal Should Suffer

Not only were these scorching injuries avoidable, there’s also no justification for monkeys—or any animals—to be in laboratories in the first place. PETA is urging NIDA to ditch worthless animal experiments and instead invest in effective, human-relevant methods that can provide much-needed help for the millions of Americans and their loved ones who suffer from substance use disorders.

A squirrel monkey perched on a tree branch

NIDA has previously used squirrel monkeys to study human opioid addiction, but the results of such experiments don’t translate to humans. Unnatural laboratory conditions, physiological differences between species, the relative inability to measure emotional states in animals, and the complexities of human addiction are just some of the problems with using animals.

Help End Animal Experiments

This isn’t the first time that animals have been subjected to pain, violence, and distress in federal laboratories. The National Institutes of Health funnels billions of taxpayer dollars into laboratories for cruel animal experiments that don’t advance human health.

Please take action today and urge your legislators to support PETA’s Research Modernization Deal, which outlines a strategy for getting animals out of laboratories and instead investing in modern, human-relevant research methods:

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