UMass Monkey Escape Hidden From Feds; PETA Files Complaint

For Immediate Release:
May 26, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Amherst, Mass.

Records obtained by PETA reveal that a marmoset’s escape at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass) went unreported to federal agencies—and that the mishandling of primates has only intensified since then. Today, PETA filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), urging the agencies to investigate the school’s possible violations of animal welfare regulations and guidelines as well as its failure to comply with reporting requirements.

The newly released reports describe a marmoset’s escape from a transfer box and his injury of another monkey before staff could catch him in 2017, but the school never alerted NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare or the USDA, as required. In 2018, there was a similar escape—two monkeys broke free from a transport box, resulting in injuries.

“These incidents demonstrate a pattern of incompetence, dishonesty, and marmoset suffering,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on the USDA to investigate UMass, before the school’s next monkey escape turns deadly.”

According to the documents obtained by PETA, the school also received a USDA citation after a marmoset escaped from a restraint device: A handler injured the monkey so badly during recapture that the animal’s tail had to be amputated. The school’s long history of animal welfare violations includes an instance in which a marmoset was severely burned with hand warmers as he was recovering from surgery—leading to his death—and another in which experimenters failed to give necessary pain relief to several hundred mice who had just undergone surgery. Mice have also drowned, birds have starved to death, and zebrafish have died from overheating.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—has been contacted by numerous UMass alumni and donors concerned about the university’s treatment of primates in its laboratories. 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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