Baby Monkey Strangled to Death in Harvard Experimenter’s Lab, PETA Reveals

For Immediate Release:
November 10, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


On the heels of exposing Harvard Medical School experimenter Margaret Livingstone for separating newborn monkeys from their mothers and sewing their eyelids shut, PETA has just obtained federal reports documenting that a young macaque died of strangulation in Livingstone’s lab. The monkey had been taken from her mother and put in a cage with a “surrogate mother”—a cloth-covered device that baby monkeys, alone in their cages, cling to. She ripped a hole in it, stuck her head through, and strangled to death. It’s unclear whether this was one of the monkeys Livingstone had blinded or used in other visual deprivation procedures.

The reports also reveal that after a monkey escaped from a cage and fought with another stressed monkey, one sustained lacerations requiring amputation of a finger. Additionally, Livingstone was reported by veterinary staff for failing to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at the height of the pandemic while experimenting on a restrained monkey—even though federal guidelines require that PPE be worn to reduce the risk of zoonotic spread of deadly pathogens.

“Livingstone is reckless and has no regard for the well-being of the animals in her laboratory. If she hadn’t been separating babies from their real mothers, this infant macaque wouldn’t have strangled to death,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Katherine Roe. “PETA is calling on Harvard to put a stop to these experiments and shut down this monkey laboratory.”

In a recent paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Livingstone recounted how she removed infants from their mothers and replaced the babies with plush toys. As though she had made a valuable discovery, she noted that the distressed mothers interacted “maternally” with the toys—something that common sense would tell us. She has conducted these sensory-deprivation experiments on monkeys for 40 years and, since 1998, has collected $32 million in taxpayer money from the National Institutes of Health to bankroll them. Yet all this cruelty hasn’t produced any cures or treatments for humans.

Livingstone follows in the footsteps of Harry Harlow and Stephen Suomi, Harlow’s academic progeny who co-invented the “rape rack” and the “pit of despair.” She advances a horrific tradition PETA thought ended in 1985 when activists liberated baby Britches, whose eye had been sewn shut, from the bowels of a University of California laboratory.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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