University of Wisconsin–Madison officials have green-lit experiments on marmosets that are so cruel, so pointless, and so patently bereft of scientific rigor—while also managing to be rife with ineptitude that it strains credulity to think they could ever have been approved by anyone. And guess what? They came from the notorious University of Massachusetts–Amherst’s (UMass) Agnès Lacreuse.
PETA scientists combed through hundreds of pages of documents to untangle this nasty web. Here’s what we found.
At Lacreuse’s request and with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), experimenters at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, located on the campus of UW-Madison, intend to prevent tiny, sensitive marmosets from sleeping more than 15 minutes at a stretch for several nights a week in a wrongheaded attempt to somehow glean insight into the effects of sleep deprivation on humans’ ability to think clearly and the effects of sleep deprivation on Alzheimer’s disease.
PETA is calling for investigations by NIH and the U.S. Department of Agriculture because these experiments are inherently flawed, add nothing to scientific knowledge, and appear to violate numerous animal welfare regulations, among other serious concerns. PETA is also asking the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to yank the experiment’s funding.
Every 15 minutes during the night, experimenters blast the monkeys for six full minutes with noises measuring from 60 to 90 decibels. By comparison, the average noise from a vacuum cleaner is about 70 decibels. The monkeys will be startled awake as many as 46 times during the night for a total of 276 minutes for three consecutive nights.
The experiments break no new ground. A wealth of published information already exists about the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive decline in humans. Numerous other studies have already examined the same effects of sleep deprivation in human volunteers, and they were all completed without a monkey body count. The experiment proposal should have been tossed out immediately.
The setup of the experiment can’t possibly shed light on human age-related cognitive decline. Humans who experience poor sleep aren’t suffering because they’re startled awake by loud noises at preset intervals but rather because they suffer from poor sleep for biological and neurological reasons not covered by this experiment.
In addition, marmosets aren’t miniature humans. Numerous physiological and biological differences between species make marmosets a poor stand-in for humans, rendering useless any information from the experiments.
Bait and Switch?
In order to get the money to bankroll this travesty, experimenters had to classify the amount of pain they were going to inflict on the monkeys. They said it was minimal.
It’s not. And the funding should be yanked for this reason.
Not only are marmosets in this experiment deprived of sleep, they’re also subjected to chronic captivity, repeated fluid restriction, and restraint. The cumulative effect is permanent physical and psychological harm.
All this was unrepresented or downplayed in the grant proposal.
Who’s on First?
This experiment was funded by a grant from NIA two years ago, when it was slated for a laboratory at UMass, where Lacreuse would conduct it. Many months later, UW-Madison is still debating how it will be conducted, what will happen to the animals, and even what equipment it should use, according to information PETA obtained.
Vote for Me!
UW-Madison primate experimenter Ricki Colman is slated to be the chief experimenter for these experiments. She’s also the head of the laboratory’s animal oversight committee, which voted to approve the project she’ll conduct. Unsurprisingly, appearing to exert undue influence on the vote like this likely violates a mess of regulations—another reason that funding should be canceled.
What You Can Do
Please take action today and demand that UMass shut down Lacreuse’s laboratory immediately.