Feds Investigating Wisconsin Primate Laboratory Following Secret PETA Video

PETA Filed Federal Complaints After Six-Month Investigation, Wants Animals Relocated to Reputable Sanctuaries

For Immediate Release:
September 16, 2020

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Madison, Wis. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have launched investigations following a six-month PETA undercover probe showing widespread suffering and neglect at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC), a taxpayer-funded facility at which nearly 2,000 monkeys are confined small, barren steel cages in windowless rooms. Yesterday, PETA released the first-ever undercover video footage from inside the primate center.

Earlier this month, PETA urged the USDA and NIH to investigate WNPRC for more apparent violations of federal law. The USDA has fined the facility’s host institution, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, repeatedly for denying animals basic care—including fining it $74,000 just this spring.

Video footage and photographs show highly intelligent primates who have been driven mad by extreme, near-constant long-term confinement—over two decades of it for some—deprived of the opportunity to meet their most basic needs, and treated with cruelty and contempt. One worker said that some monkeys can’t be housed with others “because they are a**holes” to one another in the highly stressful, grim, substandard conditions—leading them to sustain deep, painful lacerations; such severe damage to fingers that they require amputation; and other injuries from attacks. Other monkeys mutilated themselves or paced and circled endlessly, a well-recognized way of trying to cope with mental anguish. Some of them pulled out their own hair, ending up nearly bald. Many were found to have chronic diarrhea lasting for months or even years. Cornelius, a monkey who has been at WNPRC for a decade and is usually kept in isolation, was consistently found hunched over or with his face pressed against the cage bars. As one supervisor said, staff are “not supposed to say” that monkeys “look depressed … but sometimes they just do.”

Macaques are forced to give birth alone in cages with wire flooring. Terrified mothers and infants cry and frantically try to cling to each other as workers pull them apart. Some infants were put in a bleak basement room before being tattooed for identification purposes. Workers transfer the monkeys from their cages to a restraint chair by the heavy metal neck collars that they’re forced to wear and then electroshock their penises until they ejaculate.

“The Wisconsin National Primate Research Center uses the public’s tax dollars to torture monkeys,” says Dr. Alka Chandna, PETA’s vice president of laboratory investigations. “It has repeatedly failed to abide by the law and must be shut down.”

PETA is also calling on WNPRC—which, along with UW-Madison, received more than $300 million in taxpayer money in 2019—to release all the animals in its labs, starting with Cornelius, to sanctuaries and to return the base grant that it received from NIH.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—is additionally asking supporters to urge NIH to stop using taxpayer money to lock up primates and fund tests on them and instead to focus on relevant, state-of-the-art, non-animal research.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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“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