Oscar-Nominated Composer Urges Alma Mater Harvard to End Baby Monkey Torment

For Immediate Release:
March 9, 2023

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Boston – Oscar-nominated Banshees of Inisherin composer Carter Burwell sent a letter to Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow and Harvard Medical School Dean George Q. Daley decrying his alma mater for the sensory deprivation experiments of Margaret Livingstone. PETA has revealed that Livingstone has sewn the eyelids of baby monkeys shut and permitted an infant monkey to strangle to death. She has collected $32 million in taxpayer funds since 1998 from the National Institutes of Health—even though her experiments haven’t produced a cure or treatment for humans in 40 years.

“This sort of experimentation on primates was not uncommon when I attended Harvard almost 50 years ago, but I thought we’d advanced since then,” writes Burwell, before going on to request that the two university officials shut down this “completely unnecessary cruelty.”

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, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Burwell’s full letter to Bacow and Daley follows.

Lawrence S. Bacow


Harvard University

George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D.


Harvard Medical School

Dear President Bacow and Dean Daley:

I recently learned from PETA and the journal Science that a series of horrifying experiments are being conducted on baby monkeys at Harvard Medical School.

Margaret Livingstone is taking newborn monkeys away from their mothers soon after birth and deliberately damaging their visual and neurological development at my alma mater. Many have had their eyes sewn shut, depriving them of their ability to see the world. In her current experiments, the infant monkeys are forced to wear vision-distorting goggles or are never allowed to see a face. When they get older, they have electrodes surgically inserted into their brains, head-posts screwed to their skulls, and coils surgically implanted into their eyes, all before they are eventually killed and dissected.

This sort of experimentation on primates was not uncommon when I attended Harvard almost 50 years ago, but I thought we’d advanced since then. Scientists in most fields are now thinking harder about how to design experiments to accord with the morals of our society and its institutions. Many scientists object to Dr. Livingstone’s work (see the article in Science), and I’m sure most non-scientists would find it appalling. Please tell me that Harvard will end this type of completely unnecessary cruelty.


Carter Burwell

Class of ‘77

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