What Happened to Starving Monkeys After 40 Years?

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2 min read

In the 1980s, two separate groups of experimenters set out to answer a not-so-burning question: Will a sentient being live a longer, healthier life when kept in a state of perpetual hunger for, say, 40 years?

At the University of Wisconsin–Madison and at a National Institutes of Health (NIH) laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland, experimenters kept rhesus macaques on a starvation-like diet that fell 30% below their minimum standard daily calorie requirement.

Photo of two rhesus monkeys sitting side by side, separated by a cage wall
The monkeys in this Wisconsin NPRC photo were subjected to years of cruel treatment. Experimenters put the one on the left on an extremely low-calorie diet, leaving the monkey hungry most of the time, while the one on the right was fed sugary processed food, which monkeys never eat in nature.

And they kept them hungry like this for four decades.

What was their final, earth-shattering conclusion? Dunno, says the journal Nature.

The UW-Madison experimenters said the lives of their hungry monkeys were improved by food deprivation, but those at NIH said the opposite about theirs.

These conflicting outcomes, according to one experimenter, “cast a shadow of doubt on the translatability of the caloric-restriction paradigm as a means to understand aging and what creates age-related disease vulnerability.”

Starving monkeys isn’t science, you say? Who could possibly have predicted that?

We could have.

It’s apparently not enough to deprive monkeys of everything that makes life worth living and slowly drive them insane by keeping them caged in solitary confinement, interrupted only by periods of pain from needles and blood draws and myriad other daily horrors, but to also intentionally keep them hungry—for 40 years—is simply demented.

This is yet another horror story in an unfortunately endless litany of wasted lives, wasted money, and wasted time amassed on the taxpayers’ dole by experimenters who are doing nothing to help anyone and leaving misery in their wake.

PETA has a simple message for how to end these wrongs: Put modern science into all laboratories. Adopt PETA scientists’ Research Modernization Deal, a clear-cut roadmap to ending animal experiments and shifting to cutting-edge research models that will put U.S. laboratories on the vanguard of scientific innovation, leaving this garbage behind.

This action is limited to U.S. residents.

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