For Immediate Release:
April 30, 2021
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Amherst, Mass. – After the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass) slammed the door on discussions with PETA about replacing studies involving monkeys and other animals with state-of-the-art methodologies, the school is now facing protests, an ad blitz, and federal complaints about ongoing animal welfare violations.
The talks followed PETA’s release—which the university fought for two years—of a shocking video from a UMass study revealing that deeply distressed monkeys circled and paced inside small metal cages. The experimenter who led this study abruptly retired, but UMass’ record of violations and exploitation of fragile marmosets brought Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Mike Malone to the table with PETA scientists to discuss commonsense suggestions for ending the use of primates and modernizing the institution’s research program.
After a promising initial discussion, in which Subbaswamy and Malone asked numerous questions and pledged to follow up, Subbaswamy backed out, reportedly under pressure from tenured professors who still experiment on animals and are not interested in change.
“Choosing to harm animals rather than challenging the status quo is a kick in the face to modern science,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Katherine Roe. “But PETA won’t look the other way while UMass runs what can only be described as an archaic monkey torture chamber.”
UMass imprisons dozens of marmosets, who are susceptible to disease in captivity, to study “hot flashes” experienced by women during menopause. Experimenters at the university have subjected female marmosets to invasive surgeries in which electrodes are implanted in holes drilled into the animals’ skulls, incisions are made to expose neck muscle, and electrode leads from the scalp and the neck are threaded through their abdomens. In another experiment, castrated male marmosets were injected with testosterone and then tested for cognitive functioning.
The university has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the following reasons:
- Severely burning an animal on a heating pad as he was recovering from surgery, leading to his death
- Failing to alert an attending veterinarian about sick animals, including a marmoset named Pat who was shaking and moving slowly
- Permitting a monkey to escape and injuring the animal’s tail during recapture
Just last month, the USDA flagged UMass for failing to ensure unnecessary duplication of experiments.
PETA has been contacted by numerous UMass alumni and donors concerned about the school’s animal welfare violations and continued experiments on monkeys. After PETA protests, Harvard Medical School closed its national primate research center, choosing instead to focus on cutting-edge, non-animal tools.