Monkey-Tormenting Harvard Experimenter ‘Can’t Imagine Having More Fun Doing Anything Else’

For Immediate Release:
November 17, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


After exposing Harvard Medical School experimenter Margaret Livingstone for separating newborn monkeys from their mothers and sewing their eyelids shut, PETA obtained Livingstone’s autobiographical essay, in which she mirthfully describes several of her curiosity-driven experiments on animals, making them sound like antics rather than science. PETA is sharing disturbing excerpts on its website to alert taxpayers to what they’re funding:

  • Livingstone loves her work.

She writes “I spend a lot of time now taking care of baby monkeys while wearing a mask so they never see any faces and I can’t imagine having more fun doing anything else.”

  • Livingstone uses medication recklessly.

In an experiment on cats, one refused to fall asleep. “So, thinking we knew what we were doing, we gave the cat a dose of diazepam [Valium] to make it drowsy.” That didn’t work, naturally, because diazepam has the reverse effect on cats, which she might have discovered with a simple Google search. “So there we were for 12 more hours with that wide-awake cat. During that endless experiment, I read a book …. The experiment was a failure, but the book was fantastic.”

  • She prides herself on fashioning new torture devices.

“I just spent half an hour using zip ties to mount a drilled-out sawed-off Tupperware container inside a standard monkey chair to adapt the [restraint] chair for baby monkeys. (It works great.)”

  • She has so much fun at work.

Among her crowning achievements is a “cat-sleep-deprivation apparatus” that she made out of a cardboard drum. It revolves continuously, preventing cats inside from sleeping. It also circulates their own excrement continuously. Livingstone recalls that the drum was too big to empty into a toilet after she had kept a cat awake all night. “It was bigger than the stall, and it was so awkward to aim at the toilet that I started laughing …. [My colleague and I] ended up with soggy cat excrement all over our feet.”

“Margaret Livingstone’s own words are almost as disturbing as her pointless experiments,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “Her remarkable disassociation from the pain and anguish she causes animals is simply pathological and absolutely beyond the pale. PETA demands that Harvard pull the plug on her experiments immediately.”

Livingstone’s experiments on monkeys have continued for 40 years, and since 1998, she has collected $32 million in taxpayer money from the National Institutes of Health for them—but they have never produced a single cure or treatment for humans.

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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