Brutal Experiments On Baby Monkeys Could Be Kept Secret Under New Bill
The University of Wisconsin's cruel experiments on baby monkeys could be hidden from the public if a new piece of legislation is passed.
The proposed amendment to Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill would permit the University of Wisconsin–Madison to withhold all details about its research until they're "publicly disseminated or patented." Under the bill, the public would have no insight into taxpayer-funded studies, even if they were unethical or involved alleged animal cruelty.
The amendment is "just exactly the wrong step," Kelsey Eberly, a litigation fellow with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, told The Dodo. In the case of the university's primate research, the public has a right to information about the study because "it imposes such terrible suffering on such a sensitive creature," she added.
The legislation would allow the university to hide details about its maternal deprivation studies - which have been widely criticized by the public, scientists and even Congress - that snatch newborn monkeys away from their mothers and subject them to severe trauma.
This has included drugging mothers so their babies would think they were sick or dying, and panic as their mothers slipped into unconsciousness, and trapping them in cages with snakes, which monkeys are innately terrified of.
After around 18 months, the babies are slaughtered and their brains are dissected so scientists can evaluate how traumatized they were and what effect it had on their brains.
The ALDF filed a lawsuit against the university in October seeking the release of information about this latest maternal deprivation study's approval.
This isn't the first time the university has tried to exempt itself from public accountability; attempts were made unsuccessfully in both 2013 and 2014. At the time, the university said the exemption was necessary to protect its intellectual property rights, even though critics noted that, under the current law, the school can refuse to release documents in certain situations.
Whatever the motivation this time around, it's clear that the added secrecy ensured by passing this bill could have a significant impact on the monkeys within the university's care, and reduce its accountability when it comes to animal welfare issues.
"Walker's proposed legislation would mean an end to the transparency the public is entitled to under the law, allowing the [primate] experiments to continue under the shroud of secrecy in spite of public concerns," Stephen Wells, executive director for the ALDF, wrote in The Huffington Post.