Exposing the Lies of the University of Wisconsin
While animal experimentation is controversial, the concept that
animals experience pain during experimentation should be no surprise to
anyone. In fact, the invasive or painful nature of the experimentation
is often used as a justification for using animals, such as primates,
instead of performing similar research with humans.
Both individual researchers and research facilities as a whole don’t
want to admit that the experimentation they perform on animals causes
pain. However, if the pain of experimentation is denied, then it cannot
be relieved. In other words, if laboratories don’t admit that
experimentation causes pain and/or distress to the animals they are
using, then they are relieved of the responsibility of eliminating that
pain or distress.
The Animal Welfare Act addresses pain in experimentation in several
ways. Experiments are classified as either not causing pain, causing
pain with anesthesia, or causing pain/distress without the use of pain
relief. The last of these categories is the most controversial and comes
with substantial additional reporting requirements.
The USDA publishes a document titled the Animal Welfare Enforcement
Report, and part of the purpose of this report is to categorize all
experiments performed on animals according to pain categories. These
statistics are totaled on both state and national levels.
For the five year period from 2002 to 2006, 23,570 primates were used
in experimentation in Wisconsin, but according to USDA reporting not one
of these primates experienced any unrelieved pain. Clearly, this flies
in the face of all logic. One of the main laboratories that experiment
on primates within Wisconsin is the University of Wisconsin (Madison)
and the affiliated Wisconsin Primate Research Center.
What happens to primates at the University of Wisconsin? They are
confined to restraint chairs for extended periods of time as much as 4
hours. They are deprived of water for as much as 16 hours per day, 5
days per week. Various devices are bolted to their skulls, and all of
this is from only one protocol.
Another protocol, which supposedly tests the ability of a drug to
relieve pain at different dosage levels (which implies that at some
level the primates will feel pain), places the tails of rhesus monkeys
into water as hot as 131 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet, another project
subjects monkeys to temperatures up to 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit over
large portions of their bodies.
Many other studies at the University of Wisconsin subject macaque
monkeys to SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) infection. This is the
non-human primate version of AIDS. Part of this study can involve
electro-ejaculation, as well as chair restraint. The research protocol
“Infection with SIV or related viruses results in the development of
immunodeficiency disease. Thus, over a period of time, the animals are
expected to have fever, weight loss, periods of diarrhea, rash,
decreased physical activity and possibly pain.”
When we take into account all of the projects underway at the
University of Wisconsin (Madison), it is hard to believe that none of
these primates experienced any unrelieved discomfort of any kind.
Experts in the fields of veterinary medicine, primatology, bioethics,
and ethology have made statements that are roundly critical of
laboratories that utilize these procedures without depicting them
honestly in terms of the level of pain and distress that they cause.
“Experiments that utilize these
procedures are unethical. Severe restraint or confinement … involving
restraint chairs, is one of the most stressful things that can be done
to a primate. (The) situation is exacerbated when the motion of a
primate is further limited by the use of surgically implanted
restraining bars.” - Dr. Bruce
Max Feldmann, former UC Berkeley Lab Veterinarian
water . . . in order that the monkeys are motivated to work for fluid
reward is unconscionable.” -
Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Director, Tufts University Animal Behavior Clinic
“To isolate and subject monkeys to
restraint, such as restraint chair confinement, for any period of time
or to deprive them of water (or food) for extended periods of time . . .
would be extremely stressful and unethical in my opinion and might well
invalidate the results of tests conducted with or on them. In a wild
(natural) population of macaques, members of the social group would
attempt to help a monkey remove any foreign object, be it animate or
inanimate, from its head. To limit or further limit the motion of a
monkey by surgically implanting restraining bars in its skull I would
think would subject the monkey to extreme stress and discomfort.”
- Ardith Eudey, PhD. Primatologist
Two Wisconsin facilities – a Covance lab (which performs everything
from drug testing to consumer product testing) and the University of
Wisconsin (Madison) -- together account for the vast majority of the
more than 23,000 primates experimented on in the last five years in
Wisconsin. It is astronomically unlikely that not one of these 23,000
primates used in either of these laboratories in the last five years
experienced any pain or distress. Someone is LYING.
While the dishonesty of these laboratories may not be surprising, it
is simply amazing that the Animal Care Division of the Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service (part of the USDA) allows laboratories across
this nation to claim that experiments of this nature do not lead to
unrelieved pain/distress for the primates used in these projects.
This is not simply a paperwork issue. Denying that primates feel pain
and distress in experimentation denies their very nature as sentient
beings with central nervous systems very much like our own.
Additionally, denial of pain in experimentation short-circuits the need
for a search for alternative methods.
In 2003 the UW claimed that university policy would be altered with
regard to painful experiments. No surprise, nothing has changed. The
primary policy of the UW regarding pain in experimentation seems to be
Most importantly, denying the pain of experimentation gives the
public the impression that all is right with animal laboratories. The
American people have been led to believe that animal labs are well
regulated and that laws protect non-human research subjects from abuse.
Nothing could be further from the truth!