Investigation of ONPRC Reveals Horrifying Abuse of Monkeys Used in Cruel and Useless Experiments

January 20, 2021, update: The horror show of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) continues to claim victims—and PETA is asking the government how many more animals must be tormented and killed in the school’s laboratories before it finally pulls the plug on this unending violence. According to a just-posted federal inspection report obtained by PETA, the university was cited for denying adequate veterinary care to a male marmoset who had to be euthanized after he developed an infection in his brain. Experimenters had cut into the animal’s skull improperly, causing scarring and abnormal bone growth at the incision site. Adding insult to this literal injury, the marmoset wasn’t examined by a veterinarian until four days after the problems were first observed, and treatment wasn’t administered until six days after that. A female marmoset had suffered a similar fate in 2020.

October 1, 2018, update: Atrocities continue to take place at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) document just obtained by PETA, a young monkey there had to be euthanized after becoming trapped in PVC pipes in an enclosure. Although the report only indicates that an autopsy conducted on the monkey’s body “revealed signs that appeared consistent with the entrapment and subsequent events,” it’s likely that the animal nearly strangled to death and lacked an adequate flow of oxygen to the brain. In a separate incident, workers failed to give a monkey postoperative pain relief on the morning after surgery.

OHSU is either incompetent or outright cruel—likely both. PETA is filing a complaint with the National Institutes of Health calling on the agency to cut off its grant funds immediately.

June 27, 2018, update: Recently, experimenters at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) have been complaining about what the video captured in our eyewitness investigation reveals. Animal experimenters, including those who abuse thousands of monkeys at ONPRC, want to have it both ways. They claim to strive for transparency, yet they refuse to release video footage of their experiments and whine about PETA’s investigations, which have been the only way for the public to see inside their animal laboratories, including the areas and buildings that they don’t want to show voluntarily. Our eyewitness recorded monkeys who had endured deep psychological trauma from years of confinement inside barren steel cages. The footage—which anyone can view—shows monkeys endlessly pacing, rocking, and pulling hair out of their bodies. The fact that these cruel conditions are legally permissible demonstrates only that our animal-protection laws are pathetically weak. It does not excuse or justify the misery that these animals had to endure so that so-called “scientists” could procure more grant money.

March 9, 2018, update: Problems persist at OHSU. A federal inspection report just obtained by PETA documents that yet more incidents of neglect, incompetence, and abuse have taken place. In one incident, a juvenile monkey became trapped between the cage in which he was being held and the wall behind it. OHSU workers failed to notice that he was missing, and he died. Presumably, they only discovered his absence when they could smell his corpse. In another incident, the skin was completely torn off the bottom of a monkey’s tail when he was moved—apparently ineptly—from one cage to another. The tail had to be amputated. In a third incident, workers somehow missed that a monkey had been placed on a list restricting her use in experimental surgeries, and she was subjected to a caesarean section in one experiment and an embryo transfer in another. These incidents represent failures in simple care and oversight, including observation, handling, and even just reading charts. Our government should stop dumping millions of dollars into experiments at OHSU now.

Originally posted April 22, 2009:

The Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) imprisons 4,200 primates and receives more than $30 million a year in taxpayer funding to torment them in cruel, useless, and deadly experiments.

During a four-month undercover investigation inside the facility, PETA documented that monkeys were driven insane by laboratory conditions. The investigation revealed that the monkeys were confined to small, barren cages and lived in constant fear of employees’ rough handling. The following are among the examples of cruelty that PETA investigators observed at ONPRC:

  • Sick monkeys received inadequate veterinary care and pain relief.
  • Employees chased terrified monkeys in their enclosures and pinned the animals’ arms behind their backs to force them into transfer boxes.
  • Employees used high-pressure hoses to spray water into cages while monkeys were still inside them.
  • Monkeys were forced to pick their food out of waste trays beneath their cages.

Monkeys who were confined to small steel cages showed signs of psychological disturbance, such as frantic pacing, spinning, and rocking. Experimenters at ONPRC separate infant monkeys from their mothers in order to cause them intentional psychological damage. They impregnate monkeys and expose them to dangerous levels of nicotine in order to induce birth defects in their babies, who are killed and dissected after their first day of life. They starve monkeys so that they’ll “voluntarily” consume alcohol, and then they kill them to see the effects of alcohol on organ function. You can read more about these cruel experiments here.

Many of ONPRC’s studies have no clinical application to human beings, and many duplicate old experiments that have been conducted and funded repeatedly in the past. In 2002, Good Morning America hosted a three-part series on wasteful taxpayer-funded projects titled “You Paid for It!” The series used ONPRC animal experimenter Judy Cameron’s work, which involved causing terror to infant monkeys with remote-control airplanes, as a prime example. Even today, ONPRC experimenter Kevin Grove receives $750,000 in taxpayer money per year to feed pregnant monkeys unhealthy high-fat diets and then scare their babies with Mr. Potato Head dolls.

In September 2008, PETA obtained internal documents from ONPRC that further detailed abuse and neglect in addition to that observed during PETA’s undercover investigation. These documents revealed the following abuses:

  • ONPRC experimenters accidentally performed surgery on the wrong monkey.
  • A pregnant monkey experienced a difficult labor, but the experimenter refused to allow the attending veterinarian to perform a Caesarean section to save the baby. When the experimenter finally allowed a Caesarean section to be performed two days later, the full-term baby was dead. The mother died days later of multiple organ failure.
  • Many caged monkeys at ONPRC exhibited stress-induced neurotic behavior, such as cage-circling, self-biting, and hair-pulling. In one case, a monkey was described as having pulled out 90 percent of his own hair.
  • Despite concerns raised by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors and a hired consultant, ONPRC continued to perform a painful procedure called “electro-ejaculation” on male monkeys. One monkey, Billy the Kid, was forced to endure this procedure at least 48 times.

As a result of an October 2008 PETA complaint to the USDA concerning the incidents above, the USDA launched an investigation and cited ONPRC for three violations of the Animal Welfare Act: failing to monitor animals adequately, failing to provide animals with veterinary care, and causing monkeys trauma, stress, harm, or discomfort. The USDA also issued ONPRC an “Official Warning for Violations of Federal Regulations,” which warns a facility about civil or criminal penalties if additional violations are found in the future.

Subsequent USDA inspections have cited ONPRC for repeated federal violations, including incidents involving a monkey who died of dehydration, monkeys who suffered excruciating deaths after being injected with unapproved chemicals, and nine monkeys who escaped ONPRC, putting themselves and the public in danger. As a result of its ongoing failure to comply with even the minimum federal standings governing the treatment of animals in laboratories, ONPRC was fined nearly $12,000 by the USDA.

In spite of federal sanctions against the facility, ONPRC continues to violate animal-welfare laws.

Many monkeys imprisoned in laboratories have endured torturous journeys to the U.S. after being bred on squalid factory farms or taken from their families in the wild. Tell Air France—one of the few airlines still willing to participate in this shameful trade—to stop transporting monkeys into the U.S.

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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