University of Wisconsin Accused of Planning to Mentally Torture Baby Monkeys

Monday, October 27, 2014
Dr. Ned Kalin (photo: University of Wisconsin)

University of Wisconsin researchers are planning to take newborns from their mothers, keep them isolated for six weeks except for feeding and cleaning, then put them with one other six-week-old and torture the pair with live snakes and intruders.


If those newborns were human, people would be going to jail. Instead the subjects are rhesus monkeys, chosen “because their similarities to humans in social behavior, emotion, hormonal responses and brain structure make them the best model for examining human emotion regulation as well as the risk to develop anxiety and depression.” In other words, they’ll act and feel pretty much like a human would when subjected to those stresses.


The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is trying to stop the university from subjecting the monkeys to that mental cruelty in the name of science. ALDF has sent an open letter to the University of Wisconsin, urging it to halt the project to be carried out by Dr. Ned Kalin.


In addition, the group has sued to obtain complete records from the school’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the meeting where this research was approved, according to Molly Willms of Courthouse News Service. So far, the university has provided official minutes of the meeting, but has held back handwritten notes that are the sole record of much of the discussion of the research.


The mistreatment of the monkeys won’t end with the isolation and other mental torture. According to the protocol, they’ll be subjected to frequent skin-punch biopsies and brain scans during which the monkeys will have to be restrained and sedated. Then, at 18 months, the monkeys will be killed and their brains dissected. 


Some question whether the project’s goals are valid. Pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Sujartha Ramakrishna told the ALDF: “Kalin’s attempts to attribute the development of mood and anxiety disorders to a few specific physiological changes in the brain are based on a gross oversimplification of the complexities of a developing human mind.”


And what’s the point of this research? At the end of the day, to put more money in the pockets of big pharmaceutical cpmpanies. As Kalin wrote, “understanding the involvement of brain chemicals that have never before been implicated in anxiety, will allow the field to begin to search for medications that affect these newly identified systems.”

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

An Open Letter to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (by Kelsey Eberly, Animal Legal Defense Fund)

Traumatization of Baby Monkeys in Wis. Inspires Records Challenge (by Molly Willms, Courthouse News Service)


Karen Pokorny 9 years ago
Anyone who thinks this is being done in the name of science is SICK. There are thousands of reputable researchers who would never touch an animal, especially when there are so many other ways to achieve this same result. UW is denigrating itself - Be prepared for the huge charge of decent people who care about a living creature.
Francis DuCharme 9 years ago
Spare the monkeys WI. If want to break new ground in the area of anxiety pharmacodynamics just take blood samples at the next GOP convention.

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