Are Monkeys at Wisconsin National Primate Research Center Infected With the Novel Coronavirus? PETA Demands Documentation

Suspend All Experiments, Group Says; Monkeys' Exposure to Virus Will Affect Future Experiments

For Immediate Release:
April 24, 2020

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Madison, Wis. – Humans aren’t the only primates who can be infected with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. That’s why PETA is calling on the federally funded Wisconsin National Primate Research Center to suspend all experiments and provide documentation that the monkeys housed there, as well as its staff, have not been exposed to or infected with the coronavirus. Because the virus affects monkeys differently from humans, they are not good “models” for studying the human form of the disease—and if any of the monkeys are infected, future studies involving them would be compromised.

“We are deeply concerned that in the face of a global pandemic—the very reason that primate experimenters claim to need to cage and maintain 100,000-plus primates in laboratories—the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center may not be able to show that the monkeys it imprisons and the humans it employs haven’t been exposed to COVID-19,” says PETA veterinarian Dr. Ingrid Taylor.

In 2019, the center received more than $10 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health for basic operations, plus millions more in research grants. The facility has been repeatedly cited for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including the following: A marmoset’s leg had to be amputated after a worker broke the animal’s femur through improper handling, and a monkey lost part of his tongue and fingers after he escaped from a cage and got into a fight with another monkey. Over an 11-month period, a dozen incidents occurred in which monkeys sustained serious injuries requiring sutures, including losing portions of their tongues or partial amputations of their fingers when workers failed to secure cages properly.

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 PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center is available here.

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