ALDF Sues University of Wisconsin over “Maternal Deprivation” Experiments on Baby MonkeysPosted on October 14, 2014
Animal Protection Group Asks Court to Compel University to Share Public Records on Controversial, Taxpayer-Funded Primate Studies
For immediate release:
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
MADISON, Wis. — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit to compel the disclosure of public records concerning taxpayer-funded maternal deprivation experiments conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The suit, filed in the Circuit Court of Dane County, Wisconsin, contends that the university illegally ignored its obligations under Wisconsin’s open records law to release full records of federally-mandated animal welfare committee meetings in which the controversial research was approved. Federal law, including the Animal Welfare Act, requires that the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) review federally-funded research proposals. ALDF seeks these records, which will allow the public to see whether the IACUC fulfilled its statutory watchdog role or whether the committee improperly green-lighted research that inflicts extreme suffering on animals for dubious human health gains.
In the experiments, 20 newborn rhesus macaques are taken from their mothers on their first day of life and kept in a barren incubator box, with only a stuffed “surrogate” and bottle for comfort. The infants, later paired with another unfamiliar young monkey, undergo terror and anxiety-inducing experiences, including unfamiliar “human intruders” and live snakes. Throughout their short lives, the monkeys’ blood and cerebrospinal fluid will be repeatedly harvested, and they will be subjected to invasive brain scans. Before the infants are 18 months old, the researchers will kill them and dissect their brains. Through maternal deprivation and intrusive tests, the aim is to cause such severe trauma to the newborn primates that their brain chemistry will have changed before the age of one.
The lawsuit comes amidst public clamor for more information about this extreme research. In the past weeks, more than 300,000 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding an end to the tests.
“These horrific experiments on infant monkeys have raised significant concerns from the public as well as from the university’s own review committee,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF. “As taxpayers, the public has a right to know if they are paying for archaic, inhumane, and illegal tests.”
ALDF’s petition is available by request.