For Immediate Release:
October 30, 2023
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Seattle – Following a PETA complaint, the Washington State Department of Health’s Veterinary Board of Governors has opened an investigation into the University of Washington (UW) following the gruesome death of a monkey during a botched procedure.
On August 7, PETA reported the monkey’s death, which is included among other violations in a just-released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report. Staffers sedated an 8-year-old male rhesus macaque for a procedure to remove dead tissue accumulating around a metal device implanted in his skull. When the monkey showed signs of trouble, there was no veterinarian available nor was appropriate emergency equipment nearby, according to the report.
A staffer had to take an elevator to another area of the center to retrieve a donated portable anesthesia machine. The faulty machine caused a traumatic pressure injury to the monkey’s lungs, essentially blowing them up like balloons. The monkey went into cardiac arrest and died, the report said.
On October 11, the UW Board of Governors authorized an investigation into the incident. A week later, the university published a statement about the death that downplayed both the severity of the incident and the latest raft of USDA citations.
“As is painfully common for monkeys subjected to neuro-experimentation, this macaque’s skull implant became infected, requiring aggressive treatment, and he was apparently killed by unprepared staff who didn’t know what they were doing,” says PETA primate scientist Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel. “PETA is grateful to state officials for taking this monkey’s death—and the apparent incompetence of UW staff—seriously.”
The new USDA report also reveals that another monkey undergoing skull surgery sustained brain damage when a UW experimenter left the room to take a phone call, leaving an unskilled trainee to botch the procedure, piercing the monkey’s brain and causing noticeable neurological damage. Other citations include subjecting a monkey to two surgeries when only one was approved; subjecting 16 rabbits to a combination of unapproved procedures and 18 squirrels to unapproved surgeries, leading to complications for six of them; and failing to give monkeys a daily water ration.
PETA has previously exposed that UW experimenters have left needles, gauze, and other surgical equipment inside monkeys’ bodies; that infant monkeys have died from undiagnosed diseases and malnourishment; and that days-old monkeys have been mutilated and killed by other caged and stressed primates, among other horrors.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.