On 13th November 2023, an 8-foot-tall inflatable “crying monkey” at the Neuroscience 2023 conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center became part of a protest from PETA supporters demanding an end to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding of Elisabeth Murray’s cruel and failed experiments with monkeys.
The inflatable figure represented Beamish, one of the monkeys tormented by the vivisectionist. He had been imprisoned at NIH in a cramped steel cage since 2007, and he was moved to Murray’s laboratory in 2010. Murray cut open his skull, suctioned out a portion of his brain, and destroyed another part of it with toxic chemicals. She then terrified him with realistic-looking rubber spiders and snakes. Held in solitary confinement, Beamish has experienced extensive hair loss (an indicator of extreme psychological stress) and has been documented spinning frantically in circles in his cage and sitting slumped over, completely defeated.
PETA’s protesters were met with aggression from conference attendees, who yelled explicit language and raised middle fingers. One attendee yelled, “I want to experiment on you,” and another said that the PETA members “should all die instead.”
The protesters also called for funding cuts to Harvard University’s Margaret Livingstone, who tears baby monkeys away from their mothers to torment them in sensory deprivation experiments; to Johns Hopkins University’s Shreesh Mysore, who drills into owls’ skulls and bombards them with bright lights and loud noises; and to the University of Massachusetts–Amherst’s Agnès Lacreuse, who attempts to study menopause in tiny marmoset monkeys—a species that doesn’t experience menopause. Murray has made her living conducting these tests on countless monkeys like Beamish, collecting more than $50 million in taxpayer funding since 1998. According to PETA, she hasn’t produced a single treatment or cure for humans.
Tracy Reiman, PETA Executive Vice President, said, “Many members of the Society for Neuroscience are raking in NIH funds to conduct almost unimaginably cruel, archaic, and pointless experiments on animals. PETA is calling on NIH to pull the funding now.”