Press Release

Appellate Court Rules University of Wisconsin Must Disclose Public Records Related to Invasive Primate Studies

Animal Legal Defense Fund Wins Public Records Lawsuit over Controversial Experiments on Infant Monkeys   


MADISON, Wisc. — In a victory for transparency, the Wisconsin 4th District Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision and ruled the University of Wisconsin-Madison must disclose public records related to taxpayer-funded experiments on infant monkeys. In 2014, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued, arguing the university violated Wisconsin’s open records law by failing to release certain documents detailing the proceedings of federally-mandated animal welfare committee meetings, during which the experiments were authorized.

It was during these 2014 meetings that the University of Wisconsin- Madison approved “maternal deprivation tests” on baby monkeys. These controversial experiments terrorize baby monkeys by exposing them to stressors like snakes and threatening human strangers. During the tests, babies endure painful skin biopsies and brain scans. At age 2, when these babies are no longer useful to the researchers, they are killed.

The university approved the tests despite the existence of better alternatives that don’t require animal suffering. After a campaign led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the university revised the experiments so that the babies would not be deprived of their mothers. However, under the new proposal, baby monkeys would still be subjected to the same intense stresses, painful tests and ultimately killed between the ages of 1 and 1 ½ and their brains dissected.

“These painful, invasive experiments are cruel and unlikely to result in meaningful scientific advances,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The court decision recognizes that the public has the right to know when its tax dollars are being used to fund unnecessary and traumatic experiments on animals.”

Under federal law, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) must review all federally-funded research proposals. The Animal Legal Defense Fund will now review the committee’s records to determine whether the IACUC wrongly approved experiments that cause acute suffering with minimal benefits for human health.

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