Bob Barker to feds: Stop experimenting on baby monkeys

Bob Barker to feds: Stop experimenting on baby monkeys

Bob Barker, former host of CBS's “The Price is Right,” is calling on the National Institute of Health to end its experiments depriving baby monkeys of their mothers.

“I want to let you know about a National Institute of Health laboratory that is spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars each year to terrorize baby monkeys in outrageously cruel and archaic experiments,” he said in a new video for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA. “At this government facility in Maryland, hundreds of baby monkeys are torn from their mothers to be caused a life of depression, stress and psychological trauma.”

Barker’s video is PETA’s latest bid to stop the NIH from experimenting on baby monkeys as Congress determines the institute’s budget for next year.

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In the video, Barker said these monkeys are locked alone in small cages and subjected to years of experiments that cause fear, social withdrawal, deep depression and severe anxiety. He contends that NIH has spent $30 million in taxpayer money, even though the experiments have never led to the development of treatments for human mental illness.

“This project is approved to continue until 2017, but it needs to stop right now,” Barker said. “Please be a champion for animals, taxpayers and public health by acting now to help end the NIH’s abusive and wasteful experiments on monkeys.”

In a statement on its website, NIH said research with non-human primates and other animal species is key to understanding and improving human health.

The research in question, NIH said is focused on examining the behavioral and biological development of non-human primates, specifically aimed at trying to understand how genetic and environmental factors interact to affect cognitive development.

“These studies cannot be carried out in humans and require the use of animal studies to carefully separate experience, genetic, and environmental factors,” the statement said. “Ultimately, these findings assist researchers in identifying humans most likely to suffer negative effects in at-risk situations and develop behavioral and drug therapies to improve negative outcomes early in life.”

After allegations were raised that animals were being mistreated at the Poolesville, Md. facility, NIH said it undertook an internal investigation and has taken steps to improve protocols to protect animal welfare.  

“NIH takes animal welfare concerns seriously, and has numerous policies and protocols in place to assure the ethical treatment and use of these invaluable resources,” NIH said. “All NIH-funded research with animals is reviewed to ensure that the science is highly meritorious and the welfare of the animals is protected."

Last month, more than 15,000 animal welfare activists signed a petition calling for federal regulators to ban experiments on monkeys.  

The activists said then that more than 70,000 monkeys are subjected to “brutal” experiments at U.S. laboratories each year.