WATCH: Rare Video Released from ASU Primate Lab

Amy Meyer, July 7, 2021

You might remember the devastating photos we uncovered last year that showed a monkey at Arizona State University (ASU) stuffed into a straightjacket and tied to a restraint chair. Sadly, he isn’t the only monkey suffering in ASU’s primate laboratory.

We’ve caught ASU hurting monkeys yet again.

This male marmoset was born on May 1, 2012 and shipped to the ASU lab about a year later. Since ASU chose to redact his identifying name and/or number, I’ve chosen to call him “Oscar.”

Photograph and video stills obtained by Rise for Animals through Arizona public records request

In 2014, experimenters surgically inserted a metal implant and “head cap” into Oscar’s skull. These are often implanted to secure electrodes into a monkey’s brain to measure brain activity during experiments, or to secure metal posts into their skull, which are used to completely immobilize their head in experiments where their eye movements are tracked.  

Videos we recently uncovered through a public records request show him, years later with the implant, running in circles in a barren cage at ASU. 

Everyday existence inside these labs is a nightmare that drives many of them into madness.

After watching this video, Professor John Gluck, former primate researcher said:

“The disgraceful scientific and welfare conflict revealed in the video is an animal in a study of the nervous system, revealed by the skull cap, simultaneously demonstrating persistent stereotypic behavior which is prima facie evidence of an already disordered and abnormal nervous system. Suffering for what valid scientific purpose?” 

Primates in labs often show these “stereotypic behaviors,” repetitive, unvaried behavior patterns with no obvious goal or function, such as running in circles (like Oscar here), pacing, rocking, somersaulting and even self abuse. These behaviors aren’t seen in primates in the wild, only those in captivity. It’s a result of being denied everything that is important to them–climbing trees, foraging for food, raising a family, exploring more than a few square feet of the same cage every day.

But Oscar’s sad story doesn’t end there.

On June 27, 2019, the surgically implanted head cap on top of Oscar’s head was significantly dislodged when experimenters were changing a bandage. The experimenters noticed that part of his skull was discolored because there was “no apparent blood flow to the area.” They sutured a temporary bandage to cover his skull for several days. On July 2, the experimenters surgically implanted a new head cap on him. The next day, his health started to deteriorate. 

At 7:00 PM on July 3, the staff noted that he was “hunched and sitting on perch in front of heat lamp . . . moving very little.” Then, an hour later, the staff found him lying on a box in the cage, and said he was on the brink of death. They contacted the lead experimenter and laboratory veterinarian to give permission to euthanize him.

Staff notes on Oscar’s condition say he was “hunched and sitting on perch in front of heat lamp . . . moving very little.

The veterinarian did a necropsy report on Oscar’s body to try to learn what may have caused his rapid decline, and while it was not entirely conclusive, they did find that “[t]he skull appeared soft and pliable . . . Histologic findings in the bone are primarily attributed to the surgical procedures . . .”

The lab veterinarian also noted that Oscar had “slow progressive weight loss” prior to the latest skull issue, and that they were unable to discover why or treat it successfully.

Oscar was suffering.

ASU failed him.

And they continue to fail even more non-human primates.

More marmosets dying at ASU

We recently uncovered that in January 2020, another marmoset at ASU was killed. He or she was injured (in a way that wasn’t described in the records), and the experimenters claimed there was “no clear way to treat the injury,” so they euthanized him or her instead.

Just two months later, in a March 2020 meeting, the committee that is supposed to oversee animal experiments at ASU was informed of yet another marmoset death. This monkey, similar to Oscar, was found to not be maintaining his or her weight, even with the involvement of a veterinarian. Bloodwork, and the necropsy after death, found kidney problems. This marmoset was currently just being warehoused at the lab, likely in limbo until experimenters could secure funding for another torturous experiment.

Don’t let this lab hide what’s happening inside. 

Monkeys continue to suffer in ASU’s laboratory. Enough is enough. Share this video and Oscar’s story now. Don’t let this lab get away with hiding the awful truth.

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