Video: Agency Spends Millions Scaring Monkeys With Rubber Snakes and Spiders

NIH’s Three Decades of Costly 'Fright' Experiments on Brain-Damaged Monkeys Must End, Says PETA

For Immediate Release:
February 24, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Bethesda, Md. – Yesterday, PETA released never-before-seen video footage obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showing brain-damaged monkeys being terrorized with rubber snakes and spiders at a National Institutes of Health (NIH) laboratory in Maryland.

In the last 30 years, government experimenter Elisabeth Murray has received tens of millions of taxpayer dollars—more than $36 million in the past 13 years alone—for these “psychology” experiments. She cuts into the monkeys’ heads, saws off a portion of their skulls to expose the brain, and then injects toxins into it to cause permanent and traumatic brain damage. In some monkeys, she suctions out or burns part of the brain. Afterward, they’re placed alone in a small metal cage, and experimenters deliberately frighten them with rubber snakes and spiders, wooden mechanical snakes, and fake jumping spiders. Eventually, they’re killed. After three decades of tormenting and killing monkeys, Murray’s laboratory has not developed a single treatment or cure for humans.

PETA is demanding that NIH close this laboratory, end these tests, and redirect funds to superior, non-animal research methods that benefit humans.

“While Americans wait for cures to deadly diseases, this country’s premiere health agency is sucking out parts of monkeys’ brains and then scaring them with ‘snakes’ and ‘spiders,'” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on NIH to shut down this horrific laboratory and retire the surviving monkeys to sanctuaries.”

All primates naturally fear snakes—and during the experiments, the monkeys respond by freezing, turning away, shaking their cages, or showing signs of submission.

PETA’s letter to NIH can be found here. The group—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or click here.

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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