When activists freed a baby monkey named Britches from a University of California lab in 1985, we thought the type of vile experiment he was forced to endure had ended. Experimenters had separated him from his mother and sewed his eyelids shut—a scandal that prompted historic amendments to the federal Animal Welfare Act to prevent such cruelty in the future.
But it’s happening again.
What’s Going On?
Harvard Medical School experimenter Margaret Livingstone has spent her 40-year career tormenting animals. She tears baby monkeys away from their moms and prevents them from seeing any human or monkey faces by having staff wear welding masks. She has even sewn their eyes shut. She created this horror movie–style experiment to see how being deprived of normal visual experiences for the first year of life affects mental and visual development.
Spoiler alert: It’s extremely damaging.
In cruel experiments that have no relevance to human health, baby monkeys in Livingstone’s laboratory are torn away from their mothers and raised in emotionally impoverished conditions without the possibility of seeing any faces—human or monkey—for a full year.
We’ve known for decades that depriving monkeys and other animals of normal sensory input is bad for them—yet the National Institutes of Health has given Livingstone over $32 million in taxpayer money to conduct these idiotic experiments. 😡
After preventing fragile baby monkeys from seeing any faces for a year, Livingstone tests their face-processing abilities. That involves implanting a steel post in their heads and/or strapping their chins so they can’t move their heads. Sometimes, she implants electrodes in their brains. Once she’s done terrorizing the monkeys, she kills many of them and dissects their brains.
What Are the Results?
Separating baby monkeys from their mothers and forcing them into a world of darkness permanently damages them. (Duh.) Monkeys without mothers are more fearful and aggressive and often end up at the bottom of the social dominance hierarchy. They rock back and forth, pace in their cages, develop abnormal sleep patterns, and show other signs of distress. We already knew this—Livingstone’s pointless studies add nothing.
Ready for another shocker? Livingstone’s most recent publication found that mother monkeys become distressed when separated from their babies, too. (Again—duh.) Apparently, this Ivy League experimenter hadn’t yet figured out that mother monkeys who are howling in despair and need to be anesthetized in order for someone to rip their babies away from them are damaged as a result.
Figure 1 in Triggers for Mother Love | Margaret S. Livingstone | CC BY-NC-ND
The publication brings up other well-known info as if Livingstone had discovered it, like the fact that some mothers whose babies have been stolen from them will hold onto soft objects for comfort. Her paper is so useless and describes such extreme abuse that 250 scientists and grad students have called for its retraction—which almost never happens in the scientific community. 😶
What Can We Do?
Despite putting baby and mother monkeys through hell, Livingstone recently said that she and her staff “raise them in comfortable, enriched environments with a lot of nurturing care.” 🤔 Whether she legit believes this nonsense or is lying through her teeth doesn’t matter—she routinely tortures sentient beings and needs to be stopped. Harvard must immediately close her lab and release the remaining monkeys to a sanctuary.
You can help get these monkeys the freedom they deserve by sending polite comments to:
Alan M. Garber, M.D.
George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
Urge other Harvard officials to stop Livingstone’s reign of terror!