UW Primate Center Director’s Problems With Surgeries on Monkeys Prompt PETA Complaint

For Immediate Release:
March 22, 2024

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


Michele Basso, director of the Washington National Primate Research Center at the University of Washington (UW), has a decades-long record of conflicts with the veterinary staff at the two universities where she previously worked. At issue were the surgeries on monkeys’ skulls that she performed (she isn’t a veterinarian or a physician), her refusal to work cooperatively with staff veterinarians, and the suffering of the animals whose heads she cut into so that she could implant metal posts. Now, UW’s own records reveal similar problems with her use of monkeys, so PETA will deliver a letter to the UW Board of Regents on Monday calling for her dismissal.

Where:     Red Square at the University of Washington, 4063 Spokane Ln., Seattle

 When:     Monday, March 25, 12 noon

Credit: PETA

Basso’s experiments involve invasive surgical procedures that include cutting holes in primates’ skulls, inserting electrodes into their brains, and implanting small wire coils in their eyes.She performs a craniotomy and uses screws to attach a headpost to the monkeys’ skulls. The headpost is used to keep the monkey’s head still when they’re placed in a restrain chair for hours at a time. According to the UW records, a monkey Basso experimented on at her previous employer, the University of California–Los Angeles, and brought with her to UW in late 2021 showed signs of distress upon arrival. A few months later, his existing headpost showed signs of infection. Basso’s “repair” resulted in multiple broken screws, and her attachment of a new headpost took 11 screws in his skull to hold it in place. Five weeks later, the headpost broke off when the monkey was attached to a restraint chair.

“Monkeys used by Basso throughout her career have endured brain abscesses, inflammation, infections, and hemorrhage, yet the Board of Regents saw fit to approve her as the director of the primate center,” says PETA primate scientist Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel. “Now the monkeys who have come under her knife at UW are suffering the same fate—and it’s time for the regents to make it stop.”

To protest these violations and the exploitation of primates, PETA supporters with a massive, crying “monkey” will greet students in Red Square on the first day of spring classes on Monday, urging the school to shut down the primate center.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness.

For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.








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