Monkeys Restrained, Forced to Watch Animated Shapes; PETA Calls On Journal to Retract Paper

For Immediate Release:
March 18, 2021

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Bethesda, Md. – Today, PETA fired off a letter to Richard White, chief editor of Scientific Reports, urging him to retract a recent article coauthored by National Institutes of Health experimenter Elisabeth Murray. In its letter, PETA points to the catastrophically flawed design of the experiment involving sentient monkeys.

The paper describes how experimenters deprived monkeys of fluid, immobilized them in restraint chairs, and rewarded them with drops of juice only if they looked at certain points on a screen. They then showed the monkeys moving shapes that supposedly simulated behaviors such as chasing, seducing, and fighting. The experimenters wanted to know if the monkeys showed a human-like preference for cartoons depicting certain types of behavior, but unsurprisingly, the monkeys—who have spent their lives socially isolated in captivity and have never seen two individuals chasing, seducing, or fighting one another—did not appear to have much interest in the videos at all.

“This junk experiment expected monkeys to attribute meaning to shapes representing movements they’ve never seen in their lonely, deprived lives,” says PETA Neuroscientist Dr. Katherine Roe. “For the sake of scientific integrity and animal welfare, Scientific Reports must retract this article and ensure that irrelevant, potentially misleading experiments like this one don’t end up in its pages again.”

Murray is no stranger to wasteful experiments on monkeys. She also conducts painful and invasive experiments in which she inflicts permanent and traumatizing brain damage in monkeys and then deliberately terrorizes them by locking them inside a cage and showing them realistic-looking snakes and spiders. Murray’s cruel and useless experiments on monkeys have continued for more than 30 years and have cost taxpayers nearly $49 million without leading to a single preventative measure, treatment, or cure for human illness.

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