PETA Exposé: Outrage Guaranteed Over Harvard Experimenter Sews Baby Monkeys’ Eyelids Shut in Twisted Tests

For Immediate Release:
October 12, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Boston – Nobody thought such experiments have been allowed for years, but today, PETA has exposed a Harvard Medical School experimenter, Margaret Livingstone, who removes newborn monkeys from their devoted mothers and condemns some to complete darkness for up to a year by sewing one or both of their eyelids shut—just to see how badly it affects their development.

In a letter sent today to Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow and other administrators, PETA demands that the school immediately stop Livingstone’s cruel experimentation.

“It is deeply concerning that experiments that induce irreversible harm on infant primates are permitted at Harvard Medical School at all, let alone allowed to occur for several decades,” PETA neuroscientist Dr. Katherine Roe writes in the letter.

More from Livingstone’s repertoire: Motherless baby monkeys are reared by staff wearing welding masks so the traumatized infants never get to see a face, monkey or human. And in a recent paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Livingstone recounted how she removed infants from their mothers and replaced the babies with plush toys. In a not-so-shocking illumination of the obvious, she noted that the distressed mothers interacted “maternally” with the toys.

Livingstone has conducted these sensory-deprivation experiments on monkeys for 40 years, and since 1998, she has collected $32 million in taxpayer money from the National Institutes of Health to bankroll them. Yet all this cruelty hasn’t produced any cures or treatments for humans.

Livingstone drinks from the same well poisoned by Harry Harlow, the father of maternal-deprivation experiments on monkeys, and Stephen Suomi, Harlow’s academic progeny, who co-invented the “rape rack” and the “pit of despair.” Livingstone advances a horrific tradition we thought ended in 1985 when activists liberated baby Britches from the bowels of a University of California laboratory.

“This is not science,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “It’s a sickness, and it’s shameful that Harvard allows it. Livingstone’s experiments should be put to an immediate and merciful end.”

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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Media Response Team.


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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