Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ONPRC ‘Chimeric’ monkey research; Particularly dark day for animal research

Posted: 13 January 2012. Updated: 20 January 2012

Los Angeles, January 13, 2012 - News of the world’s first ‘chimeric’ monkeys, created by the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) has been a cause of outrage and concern at LA-based Animal Defenders International (ADI), rather than the glee expressed by the researchers.

ADI Campaigns Director Matt Rossell points out the suffering of the mothers of these monkeys by their confinement in the laboratory and the removal of eggs and other procedures required to make these baby monkeys, each with genetic material from six individual embryos.

Rossell worked undercover for two years inside Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) primate research center as the Behavior Technician in the Psychological Well-Being Department between the Spring of 1998 to the Summer of 2000 and was appalled at what he discovered there.

He said: “This latest so called scientific breakthrough deeply disturbs me and brings back haunting memories from my two years in the lab. What I saw there changed me forever and I came to recognize the social, intelligent monkeys at the facility as individuals, and that they were being treated like little more than furry test tubes.

“This latest ‘advance’ absolutely proves this and these so called scientists should hang their heads in shame - this is a particularly dark day for animal research. What I witnessed was the true suffering experienced by animals which lie behind these type of triumphant headlines.”

At OHSU in the name of science, Rossell witnessed animals routinely injected with or forced to consume toxins, addicted to drugs, intentionally inflicted with disease, subjected to invasive surgeries and procedures, burned, shocked, starved, deprived of water, isolated and immobilized for hours, weeks, even months on end.

During Rossell’s employment, The U.S. Department of Agriculture visited the facility as rarely as a few days a year, and Oregon’s inspector at the time, Dr. Isis Johnson Brown, quit in frustration because her supervisors didn’t support her efforts to enforce the law.

Although OHSU likes to inform the world that its primates are socially housed and well looked after, its monkey census has grown by a stunning 68 percent in the 11 years since Rossell was there, still leaving roughly 1,000 monkeys living alone in stark, stainless steel cages. More than 4,000 remain there today.Click here to view these figures on OHSU’s website.

Long before any surgery or experiment is conducted, the monkeys at OHSU suffer. As babies, they are ripped from their mothers forever, and as adults they are left alone in cages for years on end. What Rossell witnessed and videotaped were the resulting widespread and bizarre behaviors of that isolation: hair pulling, infant abuse, self-mutilation and depression, all consequences of research that resembles a factory farm for monkeys.

Rossell said: “I personally witnessed maternally deprived one day old babies being bottle fed and cared for—not by their constantly doting, nurturing monkey mother—but instead left alone or paired with other newborns in a sterile incubator, cared for by a Tyvek clad human lab worker, and handled with purple latex-gloved hands as you can see in their media pictures.

“I also saw monkey mothers after having a baby taken away at or near birth, with similar symptoms to human postpartum depression, including lethargy, and loss of appetite. When I brought this up to a staff veterinarian, she immediately dismissed it and said monkeys don’t suffer from depression, which is absolute nonsense. It is quite clear to me that the female monkeys used as the source of the chimeric embryos will have an awareness of what is happening to them and suffer enormous levels of fear and distress.”

To reach their outcome, numerous embryos and animals would have been experimented on and pregnancies aborted by the ONPRC. Those animals that have been successfully genetically modified are destined to a life of pain and suffering inside laboratories. This type of research raises enormous ethical concerns, let alone the monkeys wasted on dubious and ego-driven experiments.

ONPRC has been doing an enormous amount of variances on this type of InVitro fertilization research with rhesus macaques, for a long time, with past so-called “breakthroughs” including Tetra and Andi.

ADI is totally opposed to all forms of animal experimentation and advocates the use of sophisticated non-animal techniques. These experiments are particularly abhorrent because the other primates are so intelligent, emotional and genetically close to humans. Other species of primates demonstrate language, cultural practices, self-awareness and tool use.

To read Matt’s oped published in 2010 in click here.

To view the ‘Chimeric’ monkey story in OregonLive click here.

For further information please contact: ADI Campaigns Director, Matt Rossell, Tel: 323-804-9920, email

Matt Rossell’s undercover work began by accident when he responded to the pathetic cries of day-old kittens whose brains were being experimented on at Boys Town Hospital. Since then, his unlikely career investigating animal cruelty has taken him behind the locked laboratory doors of OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center, under the big top at Walker Brothers Circus, and inside almost every type of factory farm. While secretly collecting evidence to report the abuses, he has seen and done it all, from processing parts on the kill floor of an Omaha slaughterhouse to rescuing fox pups from an Illinois fur farmer after a four-month investigation. Rossell has spent the last decade publicly campaigning for animals, and now works as Campaigns Director in the Los Angeles office of Animal Defenders International (ADI). Matt’s expert comments and undercover work have appeared in hundreds of news stories in cities across the country including Nightline, CNN, New York Times, Boston Globe and the Washington Post. He has also appeared in multiple documentaries and frequently speaks publicly on animal issues.

Statement from Dr. Isis Johnson Brown from Aug, 2000 press conference:
“The USDA has little motivation to enforce the already weak laws of the Animal Welfare Act. I was unable to do my job and eventually, out of frustration, I had to quit. I recognize the system is not set up to protect the animals but instead the financial interests of the research labs.
Click this link to read her full statement

Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, the use of animals in scientific research and their replacement with advanced techniques; we provide technical advice and scientific reports to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. We fund non-animal scientific and medical research. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.

ADI’s Mission
To educate, create awareness, and promote the interest of humanity in the cause of justice, and the suppression of all forms of cruelty to animals wherever possible to alleviate suffering, and to conserve and protect animals and the environment.

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