Injuries and Irregular Recordkeeping in UMass Monkey Lab Prompt PETA’s Plea to Federal Agency

For Immediate Release:
May 14, 2024

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Amherst, Mass.

In a letter sent today, PETA calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase the frequency and scope of its inspections of the violation-prone laboratory of Agnès Lacreuse at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass) after obtaining federal records that show a longstanding pattern of serious injuries to animals caged there as well as shoddy recordkeeping.

The records document, among other troubling issues, the yearslong suffering and ultimate death of a marmoset named Chewie—short for Chewbacca, one of the Star Wars characters that monkeys in Lacreuse’s lab are named after.

For example, the records show that Chewie escaped from his restraints on one occasion. Experimenters said his tail was so badly injured during recapture that it required amputation. But the laboratory’s daily record showed that his tail had been accidentally torn off after it became caught in an air duct—two days earlier than the date reported to the USDA. The university offered no correction.

A year later, the university failed to report to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare that Chewie had sustained bruising to his mouth and had an abscess under his chin that required antibiotics—from an injury that he’d likely incurred when his ID necklace became caught in his mouth. Lacreuse’s experimenters killed Chewie in 2020.

A marmoset confined in the laboratory of Agnès Lacreuse at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. For illustrative purposes only. Image obtained by PETA through a Freedom of Information Act request

“Either Agnès Lacreuse and her staff are unforgivably sloppy or they’re deliberately misleading regulators,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on the USDA to hold UMass accountable for its negligence and apparent dishonesty.”

Last year, PETA filed a complaint with the USDA after a marmoset confined at UMass escaped and injured another caged, stressed monkey—the fourth known escape of a monkey in recent years. The school’s long history of federal animal welfare violations also includes an instance in which a marmoset was severely burned with hand warmers as he was recovering from surgery—leading to his death—and another in which experimenters failed to give necessary pain relief to several hundred mice who had just undergone surgery. In addition, mice have drowned, birds have starved to death, and zebrafish have died from overheating.

In Lacreuse’s laboratory, experimenters cut into and screw electrodes onto monkeys’ skulls, cut into their necks, deprive them of water, restrain them for hours at a time, and torment them in various other ways, purportedly to study menopause—which marmosets don’t naturally experience. To simulate menopause, she cuts out their ovaries and uses hand warmers on their bodies to mimic hot flashes.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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