PETA VIDEO EXCLUSIVE

Government Experimenters Frighten Monkeys With Snakes

Video Take Action Campaign Updates

Scientific Critique Expert Statements Activist Center

It’s a monkey fright night! PETA has obtained never-before-seen video footage of government experimenters terrifying brain-damaged monkeys with fake snakes and spiders as part of a decades-long project in which monkeys are abused and terrorized. It cost you, the taxpayers, $47 million.

Update: February 24, 2021

Records just obtained by PETA document that in 2019 alone, Elisabeth Murray used 132 monkeys in her neuropsychology experiments. While her cruel experiments cause extreme harm and trauma to all the animals used, the records specify that 72 monkeys were used in what are classified as “column D” experiments—ones that are known to cause pain. Murray subjects sensitive, vulnerable monkeys to surgeries that induce permanent brain damage, implants head posts directly into their skulls, keeps the animals hungry or thirsty to force them to cooperate in ridiculous tests, blows puffs of air into their eyes, and restrains them for extended periods of time. The monkeys are caged alone for years or even decades—and none of those in Murray’s laboratories has ever been retired to a sanctuary. Please join tens of thousands of our supporters by taking action for the monkeys below!


She saws open her victims’ skulls then injects toxins to burn brain cells, or suctions out parts of the brain. She sews them back up then places them in a small cage that probably reeks of the previous victim’s fear. She then deliberately provokes their worst fears, just to see how they’ll react. When she’s through with them, she kills them.

She’s Elisabeth Murray, and she calls herself a scientist. Her victims are monkeys. She gets millions of your tax dollars to keep repeating this horror.

PETA has obtained 43 hours of never-before-seen video footage from Murray’s twisted “emotional responsiveness” tests on dozens of monkeys in her laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. The videos were recorded between February 2016 and November 2017.

Elaborately Designed Fear Cages

Murray claims that her experiments shed light on human neuropsychiatric disorders, but what is abundantly clear is that they are designed to elicit maximum fear.

Murray carves out a section of a monkey’s skull then injects toxins into the brain or suctions out portions of it, causing permanent and traumatic damage.

The monkeys are then put all alone in a small metal cage, which is contained inside a larger box painted black. A guillotine-like door at the front of the cage is suddenly raised, revealing something inherently frightening to monkeys—a snake or a spider. Murray’s snakes and spiders are artificial but realistic-looking, and some can move or even jump.

Because monkeys, like all primates, innately fear snakes, some respond defensively—freezing or looking or turning away. Others shake their cage. Some grimace or smack their lips—signs of submission in the face of a threat. The monkeys endure this same torture repeatedly. When Murray has finished with them, they may be killed or recycled into other experiments, to be further tormented.

Monkey Used for Experiments at NIH in Cage

Blood money and lots of it, for nothing.

Murray’s experiments have raked in tens of millions of taxpayer dollars—nearly $47 million since 1998. The footage obtained by PETA is from an NIH project called “Neural Substrates of Reward Processing and Emotion.” Murray has received $16.4 million for this project since 2007.

NIH throws taxpayer money at Murray’s laboratory hand over fist. But not one treatment or cure for humans has come out of it in 30 years.

Murray likely knows that her experiments are catastrophically flawed. In a 2007 paper, she and her colleagues acknowledged that, because the monkeys they used and eventually killed were purchased from breeding colonies, “we cannot rule out the possibility that environmental factors such as stress contributed to the genetic influence on cognition we report.”

Monkey Used in Experiments at NIH

Is this really the best we can do?

Murray’s experiments are an affront to human decency and an embarrassment to science. But for decades, other researchers have been studying the roles of specific brain regions in emotional regulation and behavioral flexibility in humans, and that is producing reliable, applicable results. Research money needs to be redirected into human-relevant models and cutting-edge methods that hold promise for humans.

Murray’s “research” has amounted to 30 years of monkey torture. (To see what SHE fears, go here.) This is not who we want to be as a species. This is not how we succeed. Take action now: Join PETA honorary director and Hollywood A-lister Anjelica Huston, who wrote a letter asking that the funding for these cruel experiments stop, and let NIH know that you won’t stand for this pointless cruelty. Please use the form below to demand that our government stop these experiments and immediately shut down this lab!

“People are dying for lack of ventilators, effective treatments, and even hospital beds, and many Americans are now confronting difficult choices about the best way to use their shrinking resources. NIH is in a similar position. Studies that are pointless, wasteful, or extremely cruel should be ended now, and that means the emphasis should be placed on non-animal studies, because they offer real promise.”
—Anjelica Huston


VIDEO: Monkey Fright Night in a Government Lab!

Tell NIH that you won't tolerate having your tax dollars pay for the torment of monkeys.

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