For Immediate Release:
September 13, 2022
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Amherst, Mass. – PETA has filed a lawsuit with Suffolk County Superior Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts against the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass) to compel the school to produce video recordings and other records relating to experimenter Agnès Lacreuse’s taxpayer-funded menopause experiments on marmosets. The Massachusetts Public Records Law is meant to ensure transparency in government and requires the university to release records of its activities to the public unless the records are otherwise exempt.
In response to three public records requests submitted by PETA as many as 16 months ago, UMass refused to produce many of the records and provided highly redacted and thus useless explanations of the experiments. Among the information withheld by the school are videos of experiments, including one in which marmosets are stressed by separation and another in which hand warmers are placed on the monkeys’ abdomens. UMass also withheld the names of the people who serve on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, whose membership is dictated by federal law. Without those names, it’s impossible for the public to ensure that the committee is properly constituted and thus adequately carrying out its legally mandated responsibilities.
“UMass is improperly attempting to shield its gruesome, taxpayer-funded experiments on fragile marmosets from public scrutiny,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA’s lawsuit is a vital step in dragging this university’s cruel and deadly monkey torment out of the shadows.”
In Lacreuse’s laboratory, experimenters drill into marmosets’ skulls and implant electrodes, cut open their necks to expose muscle, and thread electrode leads from the scalp and neck to the abdomen. To mimic menopausal hot flashes—since marmosets don’t naturally experience the condition—experimenters cut out their ovaries and heat the animals with hand warmers. UMass’ history of animal welfare violations includes severely burning an animal with hand warmers as he was recovering from surgery, failing to alert an attending veterinarian to sick animals, and permitting a monkey to escape and injuring the animal’s tail during recapture.
PETA is represented in this matter by the firms Paik, Brewington & Deal LLP of Boston and Loevy & Loevy of Chicago.
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 PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.