Shoddy Practices at Harvard Monkey Lab Increase Disease Risk; PETA Files OSHA Complaint


For Immediate Release:
November 21, 2022

Amanda Hays 202-483-7382

Boston – This morning, PETA filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) alerting the agency to apparent worker safety violations at the Harvard Medical School laboratory of experimenter Margaret Livingstone. Records obtained by PETA show that veterinary staff reported Livingstone for failing to wear federally mandated personal protective equipment (PPE) while experimenting on a restrained monkey, placing herself and her workers at risk of contracting one of the many pathogens that are transmissible from monkeys to humans.

Monkeys in U.S. laboratories have been found to be infected with herpes B—a disease that is benign and largely asymptomatic in monkeys but has a fatality rate of greater than 70% in humans if not treated properly—as well as campylobacter, cholera, hepatitis, MRSA, salmonella, tuberculosis, West Nile virus, and other pathogens and diseases. In addition to the disease risk posed by Livingstone’s failure to wear PPE, her laboratory has endangered staff and animals by allowing a monkey to escape from a cage, leading to a fight with another stressed monkey that caused injuries so severe that one animal’s finger had to be amputated.

“It’s virtually impossible to guarantee that monkeys are free of all infectious agents, so Margaret Livingstone’s PPE blunder risked her own health and that of her staff,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on OSHA to investigate Livingstone’s failure to comply with even the most minimal safety guidelines.”

Livingstone’s experiments involve removing infant monkeys from their mothers at birth, caging them alone, and either distorting their vision with various devices or never allowing them to see a human or monkey face. She has also sewn infant monkeys’ eyelids shut. In many experiments, the monkeys’ heads are immobilized using helmets, chin straps, and bite bars, and some of the animals are killed and dissected. Livingstone has conducted these sensory-deprivation experiments on monkeys for 40 years and, since 1998, has collected $32 million in taxpayer money from the National Institutes of Health to bankroll them—all without producing any cures or treatments for humans.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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