February 24, 2018

Research Monkeys – A Human Malpractice or Torture?

This is not going to be easy to prepare you for, it may be a bit graphic for some but it does need to be told. Monkeys have been at the hands of researchers for years and years for asinine studies that have put them in copious amounts of torture, pain, and distress for what scientists have declared are for the good of the people.  Well, when an undercover activist went inside an animal research facility in Maryland he was not prepared for what he was about to see and it was about to change the world on how monkeys would be treated in the future, supposedly.

The Most Popular Monkeys – Silver Springs MD

This begins with a man named Alex Pacheco, a graduate student who became an animal activist after taking a tour of a slaughterhouse, then reading a book about animals and the treatment they receive within a laboratory. Soon after he met a woman where she formed the famous group PETA, you know, the one against animal cruelty.

Anyway, he graduated from George Washington University, did some other stuff overseas, came back to the United States, met this woman and decided to go undercover in a government funded lab as a research assistant, mind you this was an unpaid position, and he had no idea what he was getting into.  He knew the minute he walked in there that he was going to have to document the monkeys as soon as he could.  He was able to get some extra money for a better camera and soon his “research” began…

science testing
Vivisection photo from Silver Springs MD

 First, let’s discuss Dr. Taub the monster who performed these atrocious acts on the Rhesus Macaque Monkeys. The most popular for these types of experiments in labs all across the globe. This happened in Silver Springs, MD The Institute of Behavioral Research. Quite shockingly, if any of you read my “About Kris” page you would see that I was in the Army and trained at that very facility and probably laid my eyes on those very monkeys.  At the time, it really didn’t dawn on me that they were being abused in that way, but looking back now, it’s horrifying to think of it!

Anyway, back to Dr. Taub and the monkeys, he did a procedure called  deafferentation where the spinal cord is exposed surgically, and the afferent nerve which controls the impulses from the skin and other organs to the brain and spine are cut. This doctor does not want these impulses to reach the brain, therefore rendering the monkey partially paralyzed at his discretion.  Now get this, he performs full deafferentation on fetuses and then places them back into the mother, she then gives birth to the baby!  He also does this on full grown monkeys as well.  His thought process on this was they are just “pure research” and nothing more than that.

There were 17 monkeys to begin with, 16 males and 1 female. All of them had a name. How crazy is that? Can you imagine doing this to someone, something with a name?  That is just pure evil.  The males were getting the experiments done. The female, Sarah was purchased when she was 1 day old and that was from a dealer called Litton Laboratories.  Apparently she lived there for 8 years.  Poor thing.  Paul was the oldest one of the bunch and his injuries included 1 arm deafferented, he had chewed off each of his fingers on that hand along with the fur and skin to expose the bone, luckily for him he couldn’t feel it.  Then there is Billy, who had both arms deafferented which caused him to pick his food up with his feet.  The others are Hard Times, Domitian, Nero, Titus, Big Boy, Augustus, Allen, Montaigne, Sisyphus, Charlie, Brooks, Hayden, and Adidas.

With their limbs paralyzed and unable to move due to the cutting of the afferent nerve, Dr. Taub would set these monkeys in chairs to mobilize them and set them up to electric shock sensors and if they did not respond with their “dead” limb, they were subject to shock treatments until they realized food was a reward if they could move the paralyzed limb.  Cruel if I’ve ever heard such a thing!

Pit of Despair

Laboratory Conditions

Not sure where to begin here, but how about rat feces on the floor under the operating room table in the surgical room along with personnel files and laboratory animal files, clothes, shoes, cockroaches, and urine on the floor, not sure if it’s human or animal.  This is just the operating room!

Pacheco found another piece of disturbing evidence, he found a dead monkey floating in formaldehyde, and others in the refrigerator.  Can you imagine the horror of this while doing research there?

The wire cages were filthy and caked with feces, they did not have food bowls in there.  Pacheco had stated that the monkeys had sifted through the food scraps that had fallen through the wire racks below them into their waste because this all they had to eat.  These poor guys had absolutely nothing to sit on but the wire racks themselves, rusted with the urine they must release. According to Pacheco, the cages do not get cleaned and the unsanitary conditions are outrageous.  One can only imagine the pain and suffering of these primates, who have chewed and bitten off their fingers and limbs out of anger, frustration, and boredom.

Research Monkey








Police Raid the Lab – Remove the Monkeys

Aha! The day comes when these guys get a moments rest. Right?  Not so fast.  Let me explain what happened first.  Pacheco got smart and made the decision to to ask Taub to work nights where he could be alone with the monkeys, so he got money for a better camera and started taking photos of everything he could and documented each tortuous act he deemed would help make the case against Taub in a court of law.  Photos of gaping wounds in the monkeys, bandages on them that were so old they were literally deteriorating off them, bones protruding from their skin, fingers and limbs eaten away.

Then on September 11, 1981 the Montgomery County police were called, fortunately this fell under the Maryland Prevention of Cruelty to Animals law.  But first, the media had been notified by PETA, so the raid had been witnessed which made this case a national phenomenon.  The 17 monkeys were removed and taken to the home of a worker of the Humane Society where they were placed in a basement, given baths, groomed, teeth brushed, allowed to watch television, given meals, and were watched 24 hours a day.  What a relief for these research monkeys! But, that didn’t last long. Taub’s lawyer went to court  10 days later stating they return the monkeys, and his request was granted.  After a brief battle they succumbed and were returned to Taub.  How is this possible you ask?

His reason for not treating the monkey’s wounds was simple; they did not feel any pain, therefore adding salve or ointments would just draw attention to the affected area causing the monkey to chew or bite.  Didn’t they do that anyway?  They were just research subjects.

The NIH, National Institute of Health found his lab so deplorable that they shut down their grant funding to him.  In the tune of over $200,000. Back in the early 80’s that was a lot money.  The NIH took a look around and said this,  “it would appear that fractures, dislocations, lacerations, punctures, contusions, and abrasions with accompanying infection, acute and chronic inflammation, and necrosis are not the inevitable consequences of deafferentation.” Basically his “experiments” failed miserably.

The Trial

In the first trial there were many pieces of evidence, tons of witnesses, 70 photographs, employees, but when it came down to the verdict he was found guilty on 6 counts of animal cruelty for failing to provide adequate veterinary care in respect of six of the monkeys, and acquitted him of the other 11 charges against him. He fined Taub $3,000. The laboratory assistant, John Kunz, was acquitted of all 17 charges.

Then came the second trial, now get this.  In June 1982 a Montgomery Circuit Court acquitted him of the 5 of the 6 charges!  Mind you the the 6th one was inadequate veterinary care for Nero, in which his arm was so bad it had to be amputated, and this judge upheld this conviction. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

The courts later ruled that   Maryland’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals law did not apply to federally funded laboratories

In Retrospect

The monkeys were released back to Taub for a brief period of time, then later released to an NIH facility.   For some reason, I believe due to their horrific condition they were sent to another research lab called Delta Center Research Complex in South Louisiana where their research consists of infectious disease, urology, and other medical concerns.  It was stated that there was to be “no invasive research done on these monkeys” from the Silver Springs Institute of Behavioral Health.  In a nutshell, it happened. The monkeys were too far gone health-wise and quite ironically the testing they did actually helped decide that what Taub did was a waste of time and a waste of animal life on these monkeys.

It’s a very sad story about these 17 unlucky souls and the abuse they endured.  One can only imagine the daily abuse they endured day in and day out, the ones that had to watch as the other one was going through it.  Luckily the laws are getting better and yes, monkeys are still being used, but not at the extent as this.

As I’ve said before, we can help.  Make your contribution by adopt don’t shop, buy cruelty free products when you can and please do not buy from a pet shop!

Thank you for visiting my site and please leave a comment if you like.  Please see my video on the right about baby monkeys in research, it gives a really good overview of what they go through and the torture they receive on a daily basis.  Again, thank you for visiting.








  • Wow, this article is eye opening, it’s a hard truth to read through that some people out there are capable of such terrible actions. Thankfully someone shone a light on the issue so that this research/torture was stopped.

    • Hello Melinda, thank you for reading my article about the monkeys. Research on these animals is terribly brutal and inhumane. The research still continues today, but these guys never really caught a break.
      Many laws and regulations have been put in place but it’s a still a battle nonetheless.

      Have a great day.

  • Wow, what a thought provoking article, which was also very hard to read in places. I can’t believe that humans can be so despicably cruel. Thank you for the work you are doing to raise awareness of animal cruelty. Cheers, Karen

    • Thanks for reading Karen, it is hard to imagine the cruelty these animals suffer. In the Army, I actually trained at this Facility and was completely unaware of the brutalities that were happening right under my nose! I’m so happy to help bring the awareness of animal cruelty to the forefront.

      Again, thanks for stopping by!

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