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Primates are Suffering...... in Harvard Labs

"We shouldn't be expanding the Primate Research Centers. We should be closing them down, all of them. That people can go to work every day and allow such barbaric conditions to continue is a very black mark against humanity."

Dr. Jane Goodall


Primate research violates human moral boundaries. Approximately 2000 primates are imprisoned in Harvard University Medical School labs in Southborough, MA, and the number has INCREASED in the last 10 years. This is unconscionable especially given that in 2007 the European Parliament called to an end to all non-human primate research.

At the New England Regional Primate Research Center, Harvard vivisectors perform these unnecessary and horrific procedures:

  • Implanting electrodes into the brains and eyes of monkeys.
  • Surgically attaching permanent head restraint bolts to monkeys’ heads.
  • Forcibly addicting monkeys to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, speedballs, and other drugs.
  • Destroying areas of the brains of live monkeys with neurotoxins.
  • Unsuccessfully transplanting pig kidneys and hearts into baboons.
  • Inducing severe stress in monkeys in order to study severe stress in monkeys.
  • Injecting aerosols containing foreign genes into monkeys’ lungs for 3 hours in a row 2 days a week for 12 weeks, then killing them.
  • Forcing dogs’ hearts to beat 240 times a minute for 4-7 weeks till they die of heart attacks.

Is This Humane?
Nationwide, about 120,000 primates are locked up in US labs. In various experiments, primates are deprived of food and water for up to 23 hours a day; are bound at the waist and neck in “restraint chairs” for up to 104 hours in a row; are subjected to electric shocks; and have bolts, electrodes, and other devices surgically attached and implanted. Up to 35% of primates are kept socially isolated even though they are known to be extremely social animals. NERPRC is among the few institutions in the country to still use electric shock on monkeys, using shocks and the threat of shocks to frighten monkeys into taking addictive drugs. In 2003, NERPRC actually claimed that zero primates felt pain from studies, but they use electric shock and multiple invasive procedures which are obviously painful. In 2004, a monkey, locked in a restraint chair, died of strangulation when the vivisector left him alone to go to lunch. In a 2005 study, Harvard ranked second in the country in Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations. In 2002-2003 alone, 400 monkeys died in NERPRC labs.

We know primates feel, think, and interact like humans. This has been proven by hundred of past experiments studying stress, learning, memory, and behavior. Observation and research studies have shown that primates are capable of complex moral reasoning, caring for the disabled peers and choosing to go hungry rather than hurt others. Yet we allow their torture. A study by Harvard’s own faculty revealed that (of monkeys studied), 89% suffered “psychological abnormalities”, 1 in 4 injured themselves, and 1 in 9 injured themselves badly enough to need stitches. Bizarrely, monkeys that pulled their own hair weren’t even counted as injuring themselves (Lutz, Well, and Novak 2003).

Is This Good Medicine?
After forty years, thousands of animal lives and hundreds of millions of tax dollars, NERPRC's own website claims discovery of "evidence of addictive properties of nicotine" and "first non-human primate model of drug relapse" as "major" accomplishments. The faculty seems to be particularly addicted to addicting animals to cocaine, having published over 75 papers on that subject alone. In fact, half of NERPRC's "senior faculty" are either studying recreational drug use or non-human diseases. Since 1989, Harvard has claimed 6 different times to have created a vaccine for AIDS. Nineteen years, millions of tax dollars, and hundreds of animals’ lives later, no vaccine exists. Thousands of doctors and scientists nationwide oppose animal experimentation. Thirteen alternative methods to study human health and disease currently exist. Money spent on primate experiments could be spent on tissue and cellular research, epidemiological studies, and new technologies. The cost to taxpayers of primate experiments alone is nearly $3 million dollars a day! Here are some examples of recent experiments:

  • One NERPRC vivisector electrically shocks monkeys in order to study behavioral changes caused by electrically shocking monkeys.
  • Another Harvard researcher has been addicting animals to drugs for over 40 years. This former Acting Director's callousness is shown by her protocols cruely jokingly referring to monkeys "taking the cocaine challenge". Another professor addicts monkeys to heroin/cocaine combinations. Harvard gets about $2 million dollars a year to addict animals to drugs, enough to treat over 1000 addicts.
  • A third vivisector repeatedly fails at transplanting pig organs into baboons, killing both animals every time, then videotapes the baboons dying and broadcasts the tapes over the internet.
  • Over 20% of the primates at Harvard are involved in studies of health problems that occur in primates ONLY IN LABS. These illnesses induce uncontrolled variables into studies. Sick animals cannot yield reliable data about humans.
  • Nationwide, more studies focus on monkey sex than on heart disease.

Is This Well Regulated?
NO laws regulate what actually occurs in experiments. Approval of experiments is granted by industry insiders who have vested personal and professional interests in supporting and protecting each other. Harvard gets over $350 million tax dollars a year to do animal experiments. Record keeping is poor. In 1998, Harvard told the NIH that it had 1561 primates and the USDA that it had 336, a discrepancy of over 1200 primates! In 2003, one NERPRC report listed 368 dead primates while another listed 417, a discrepancy of over 49 deaths. The medical school's committees charged with enforcing the AWA have themselves been charged with 11 violations from 2004 to 2006.

Is This Just? Is This Necessary?
Primates suffer horribly in labs and lab experiments. Alternatives exist while primate experiments waste 1.1 billion tax dollars a year. The overwhelming majority of experiments don’t even address the nation’s worst diseases. Regulation is poor and record keeping is misleading.

What you can do right NOW!

Contact your elected representatives to call for a ban on primate research and a shift in funding. To find your U.S. Senators and Representative visit http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/.