Urge Congress to Act: Shut Down Elisabeth Murray's Monkey Terror Lab

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PETA threw open the doors on the laboratory of government experimenter Elisabeth Murray and released never-before-seen video footage showing the ghoulish treatment of intentionally brain-damaged monkeys in experiments that she designed. Now, we're asking for your help to shut the lab down permanently.

The shocking footage, taken by the experimenters themselves, shows frightened monkeys locked inside small cages as they are terrorized repeatedly with realistic-looking snakes and spiders. First, the monkeys are subjected to three or more invasive brain surgeries that induce permanent brain damage—even before they're locked in the box of terrors. Objects called "head posts" are implanted directly into their skulls and are used to keep their heads stock-still for hours. They're kept thirsty or hungry, puffs of air are blown at their eyes, and they're restrained for extended periods. And they are caged alone for years or even decades—condemned to social isolation that causes profound psychological and physiological distress.

image of monkey in cage

Murray's laboratory has been performing these experiments since the first George Bush—senior, not his son—was president. In those 30 years, the experiments have produced exactly zero data beneficial to either monkeys or humans. But they continue anyway, bankrolled by your federal tax dollars, doled out through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

While it's well known that monkeys are sensitive, intelligent beings, experimenters at NIH treat them as if they were disposable pieces of laboratory equipment. In nature, rhesus macaques—just like the ones tormented in Murray's laboratory—live in large social groups and use a variety of facial expressions, vocalizations, body postures, and gestures to communicate. They demonstrate a variety of complex cognitive abilities and understand their own mental states. They have even been shown to demonstrate self-agency, the ability to understand that they are the cause of certain actions, an important type of self-awareness. In 2014, witnesses at a train station in Kanpur, India, documented a rhesus monkey, knocked unconscious after being electrocuted by power lines, who was saved by another monkey who performed a series of resuscitative actions.

rhesus monkeys

Despite this, Murray's laboratory continues to torment and kill monkeys and has squandered more than $47 million in the past 23 years alone. That's $47 million that could have been invested in the multitudes of modern, humane, clinically relevant research methods already available. These methods could easily, effectively, and permanently replace Murray's cruel and useless experiments. Science could proceed unencumbered, and monkeys could live free from fear and cruelty. It merely takes a shift in priorities.

That’s where you come in. Please join thousands of PETA supporters in calling on your members of Congress to urge NIH Acting Director Lawrence Tabak to put an end to Murray’s experiments.

Only U.S. residents can take action on this alert. Individuals living outside the U.S. can speak out against her experiments here.

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