On 8th February 2023, Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic in the US and the Wild Minds Lab at the University of St. Andrews School of Psychology and Neuroscience in the UK sent a letter signed by more than 380 scientists to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) urging it to end its funding of cruel experiments on non-human primates at Harvard Medical School and other universities. Among the many academics and doctors around the world signing this letter we find primatologists Dr Jane Goodall, Dr Ian Redmond, and Harvard’s Dr Richard Wrangham. The signatories also urge the NIH to direct some of its considerable funding for research to develop alternatives to animal testing.
Dr Margaret S. Livingstone runs the Harvard Medical School lab that has been submitting infant macaque monkeys to cruel experiments. Dr Livingstone has received over $32 million in NIH grants since the 1980s. She studies visual recognition by depriving monkeys of the ability to see faces, by sewing their eyes shut, staff using welders’ masks around them, and even implanting electrodes into the monkeys’ brains. These infant monkeys are also deprived of contact with their mother.
Dr Wrangham, Moore Research Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University, said, “as a primatologist with decades of experience in the field, I can say with complete confidence that we know that infant primates and their mothers suffer greatly when they are separated.”
Dr Catherine Hobaiter, Principal Investigator at the Wild Minds Lab, said, “these studies fail on both scientific and ethical grounds. The doublethink argument that maternally-separated individuals represent appropriate models for conditions such as anxiety, while arguing these methods do not cause significant distress is fundamentally flawed. Our fundamental role as scientists is to update, refine, and redefine our understanding of the world around us. Doing so must include not only our theoretical positions, but our ethical responsibility to the animals we have given no choice in becoming our subjects of study.”