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Help Stop the Return of Maternal Deprivation Studies to UW-Madison

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Originally Posted: May 27, 2012

Help Stop the Return of Maternal Deprivation Studies to UW-Madison

For more information, read UW-Madison Scientists Revive Harry Harlow's Cruel Maternal Deprivation Studies.

FROM Primate Research and Alliance for Animals


We must work together to prevent the return of the infamous Harry Harlow maternal deprivation studies that included rearing infant macaques in isolation chambers for up to 24 months, from which they emerged severely disturbed.

maternal, deprivation, Harry Harlow, vivisection
Isolated monkeys show severe persistent psychopathological behaviors similar to those seen in autistic children.

Unfortunately, members of the public have little to no power individually to affect the way animals are used in scientific experimentation in Wisconsin. Last year after we discovered and exposed the fact that the university was violating Wisconsin's anticruelty laws, the university snapped its fingers and the Wisconsin State Legislature exempted them from those laws.

We are encouraging people to call and to write to Robert Streiffer. Tell him that bringing maternal deprivation back to the UW-Madison is a giant ethical step backwards. Ask him to do everything in his power to stop this and to bring the matter to the attention of the entire campus community. Many people will be shocked to learn that the university has knowingly and willingly chosen to return to its very dark past by reviving and embracing the cruel methods pioneered by Harry Harlow. 

The Chair of the oversight committee ultimately responsible for approving Kalin's and Bennett's methods is Dr. Robert Streiffer. He is the Chair of the College of Letter and Sciences Animal Care and Use Committee. He teaches philosophy and bio"ethics". It isn't outside the realm of possibility that by focussing our attention on him that something might be done to stop Bennett or even send her packing. With enough pressure, maybe Kalin wouldn't be allowed to begin ripping babies from their mothers' arms. 

Robert Streiffer
1300 University Avenue, Room 1411
Madison, WI 53706-1532
Department of Medical History and Bioethics (608) 262-7490
Philosophy Department (608) 265-0486 and (608) 263-9479


Primate Research

Maternal deprivation -- crushing a monkey’s spirit by raising him or her without a nurturing caregiver -- was invented and promoted by UW-Madison’s Harry Harlow and his students in the 1970s and 80s. Harlow’s experiments with maternal deprivation are widely acknowledged as being profoundly cruel.

Now, well into the twenty-first century, UW-Madison has again embraced the use of Harry Harlow’s cruel and controversial methods.

Recently hired experimental psychologist Alyson Joy Bennett has close professional ties to Harlow’s protégé Stephen Suomi, advocate of the infamous “Pit of Despair” – a device for keeping baby monkeys in profound isolation. Bennett maternally deprives monkeys and then uses them as her research subjects.

Monkeys experiencing these “deleterious early rearing experiences” have abnormally high levels of anxiety and stay huddled in place. They have pronounced cognitive and motor deficits. Emotional problems associated with this rearing method persist into adulthood.

Another UW-Madison researcher, Affiliate Scientist at the Harlow Primate Laboratory, Ned Kalin, has requested permission to take his decades-long monkey fear experiments even further by frightening young maternally deprived monkeys.

This is a giant moral step backwards and a challenge to public sentiments and mores. The UW Madison may have hired Dr. Bennett with the expectation that her research methods would spark public controversy. Maybe they hoped other UW scientists like Kalin would again embrace Harlow’s cruel methods.  

Thank you for everything you do for animals!