Anjelica Huston Urges NIH to Stop Spending Millions on Monkey-Fright Tests as People Die from COVID-19

While the Nation Grappled With a Lack of Ventilators, NIH Was Damaging Monkeys’ Brains and Scaring Them With Fake Snakes and Spiders

For Immediate Release:
May 5, 2020

Moira Colley 202-483-7382


Because frontline medical workers are battling COVID-19 without even basic protective equipment, Oscar winner Anjelica Huston has sent a letter on PETA’s behalf to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), urging him to slash the agency’s bloated budget for expensive and ineffective animal experiments and instead pursue human-relevant research that stands a chance of producing results.

“People are dying for lack of ventilators, effective treatments, and even hospital beds, and many Americans are now confronting difficult choices about the best way to use their shrinking resources. NIH is in a similar position,” writes Huston. “Studies that are pointless, wasteful, or extremely cruel should be ended now, and that means the emphasis should be placed on non-animal studies, because they offer real promise.”

She takes particular aim at NIH experimenter Elisabeth Murray’s “psychology experiments” on monkeys, which, as Huston points out, have received more than $36 million in taxpayer funding over the past 13 years, even though they’ve never led to the development of a single treatment for humans. In the tests, Murray cuts into monkeys’ heads, saws off a portion of their skulls, and injects toxins into their brains before they’re placed alone inside a small metal cage and deliberately frightened with rubber snakes and spiders. Eventually, they’re killed.

Huston concludes, “I urge you in the strongest possible terms to end these monkey-fright experiments and reorder your agency’s priorities so that your focus is on human-relevant research and human health.”

Huston’s letter follows a drive-by protest held by PETA outside Collins’ and Murray’s homes and the NIH building on April 21.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

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