PETA’s Massive ‘Spider’ to Protest NIH Lab

For Immediate Release:
May 24, 2021

Amanda Hays 202-483-7382


On Tuesday, PETA protesters will bring a giant “spider” to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to demand that National Institutes of Health (NIH) experimenter Elisabeth Murray stop inflicting brain damage on vulnerable monkeys and terrorizing them with realistic-looking snakes and spiders.

When:    Tuesday, May 25, 12 noon

Where:    At the intersection of Independence Avenue S.W. and Washington Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C.

Murray has received nearly $50 million in taxpayer funding since 1998 for these “psychology” experiments. She cuts into monkeys’ heads, saws off a portion of their skulls to expose the brain, and then injects toxins to inflict permanent and traumatic brain damage. In some experiments, she then implants head posts directly into the skulls of the brain-damaged monkeys in order to keep their heads stock-still for hours. They’re kept thirsty or hungry to force them to cooperate, puffs of air are blown at their eyes, and they’re restrained for extended periods. They’re caged alone for years, even decades—condemned to social isolation that causes profound psychological and physiological distress. In other experiments, monkeys are frightened with fake jumping spiders and wooden mechanical snakes. They respond by freezing, turning away, shaking their cages, or showing signs of submission.

This month, PETA filed a lawsuit against HHS, NIH, and the National Institute of Mental Health over their failure to release documents involving these experiments. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires agencies to respond to FOIA requests within 20 working days of receiving them—but PETA has been waiting for responses to some of its requests for more than a year.

“After 30 years of subjecting monkeys to hellish tests, Murray has not produced a treatment or cure for humans,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on NIH to shut down this horrific laboratory.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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