Judge Denies Justice for Monkeys at UW-Madison; PETA Will Fight On to Save Them

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Update (December 5, 2023): A Wisconsin judge has declined to reconsider her refusal to appoint a special prosecutor in PETA’s case involving Cornelius and Princess, monkeys who were held in solitary confinement for years at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC) in apparent violation of the state’s cruelty-to-animals laws.

The judge found probable cause that crimes had been committed by primate center personnel. She added that Cornelius and Princess had endured treatment so abysmal that it “shock[s] the conscience and [is] extraordinarily alarming.”

Yet she didn’t permit anyone to be prosecuted.

We filed a motion requesting that the judge reconsider her decision, but she doubled down on her grievous error. Her decision gives the primate center a free pass and has dire consequences for animals locked in its bleak labs.

“If depriving sensitive and social animals of everything that makes their lives worth living isn’t considered cruelty in the state of Wisconsin, what is? PETA vows to continue fighting for monkeys imprisoned at the WNPRC and elsewhere until laboratory experimentation is extinct.”

—PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo

Princess was killed by experimenters after enduring 17 years of physical and psychological torment. Thirteen-year-old Cornelius remains imprisoned in the primate center. He was separated from his mother as an infant and has been used as a breeder, subjected to repeated painful electro-ejaculation procedures, and was warehoused in solitary confinement for years.

After more than 60 years, 16,000 dead monkeys, and nearly $700 million in taxpayer funds, the WNPRC has produced zero cures for human diseases. PETA asks that UW-Madison release Cornelius to a reputable sanctuary. Please add your voice to ours by taking action below.

A circuit court judge has set a deadline for the local district attorney in Madison, Wisconsin, to decide whether he will finally act to save a long-suffering monkey from continued cruelty that PETA exposed at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC).

A court has ruled that Ismael Ozanne, the Dane County district attorney, has until September 28 to say whether his office will act on PETA’s request to intervene on behalf of Cornelius, a 12-year-old rhesus macaque.

In May 2021, PETA asked Ozanne to step in on behalf of Cornelius, and in August 2021, we asked that he also intervene on behalf of an aged monkey named Princess. However, after nearly a year, Cornelius and Princess remained imprisoned at WNPRC and no charges had been filed. So PETA took the fight to the courts. We asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor and that a criminal complaint be issued against WNPRC. We argued that there is probable cause to believe that one or more WNPRC employees’ cruel treatment of Princess and Cornelius constituted a crime, as did their failure to provide adequate shelter to maintain the monkeys in good health. While Wisconsin’s anti-cruelty statutes exempt the use of animals in experimentation, Princess and Cornelius endured cruel conditions of confinement, not as part of a bona fide experiment but during times when they were simply part of WNPRC’s breeding colony, meaning that the mistreatment is covered by Wisconsin’s laws.

Now, Ozanne must tell the court, in writing, whether he will take action.

PETA has reason to believe that the treatment of Cornelius violates Wisconsin’s cruelty-to-animals laws, following our six-month 2020 undercover investigation into WNPRC, which revealed damning evidence that both Cornelius and Princess have been mistreated and exhibited symptoms of prolonged physical and psychological suffering.

The monkeys have spent their entire lives locked in small, barren laboratory cages, often in solitary confinement. During the investigation, Cornelius was routinely found hunched over or with his face pressed against cage bars. As one supervisor said, staff are “not supposed to say” that monkeys “look depressed” but admitted that they absolutely do. Princess had torn out much of her hair—a form of self-mutilation indicative of extreme psychological distress.

Sadly, only Cornelius can be saved now, as 18-year-old Princess has died during our fight to save her. In November 2021, Princess was impregnated and then infected with the Zika virus. In early December, she was killed and her fetus was removed from her body for analysis.

PETA seeks the prosecution of culpable WNPRC personnel for alleged crimes against animals and the release of Cornelius to a reputable sanctuary, where he can experience sun on his back, fresh air, and space to climb for the first time in his life.

What You Can Do

Please take a minute today to join nearly 90,000 PETA supporters who have already taken action to advocate for Cornelius’ freedom.

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