‘Like a Horror Film’: Elvira Sinks Her Fangs Into UMass Over Experiments

On Halloween, Actor Asks That Cruel Marmoset Study Be Laid to Rest

For Immediate Release:
October 31, 2022

Robin Goist 202-483-7382

Amherst, Mass. – This Halloween, Mistress of the Dark Elvira is the latest celebrity since Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley to protest the real-life house of horrors at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass). The actor and longtime PETA ally, whose real name is Cassandra Peterson, sent a letter today to UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy urging him to stop ignoring the howls of people concerned about deadly marmoset experiments that absurdly purport to study human menopause.

Unlike Peterson, marmosets can’t even experience menopause naturally—a point echoed by Ridley, who wrote the school after learning that UMass experiments on animals named after Star Wars characters, including her own on-screen alter ego, Rey.

“Maybe I’m just having a hot flash, but this cruel waste really makes my blood boil,” writes Peterson, the author of the best-selling memoir Yours Cruelly, Elvira. “And it has cost taxpayers $4.4 million. Seriously? This all sounds like a horror film cooked up during a night sweat.” She continues, “Menopause is not for the weak. Believe me, I’ve been through it and I know. But it’s not for monkeys, either. These experiments could be done in a kinder, more human-relevant way by studying women who actually experience menopause.”

At UMass, experimenters zip-tie frightened marmoset monkeys into restraining devices, drill into their skulls and implant electrodes, cut open their necks to expose muscle, thread electrode leads from the scalp and neck to the abdomen, and mimic hot flashes by heating the animals’ bodies with hand warmers—like those placed in mittens during winter. Eventually, the small, delicate animals are killed and dissected.

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

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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