LLG attorneys Joseph S. Goode and Jessica L. Farley filed a brief for the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals seeking the production of public records maintained by the University of Wisconsin in relation to meetings held by UW’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IAUC), a federally-mandated body used to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. Specifically, the ALDF sued the university to compel the disclosure of public records pertaining to taxpayer-funded experimentation on baby monkeys.
The ALDF’s suit stems from a controversy that erupted in 2014 when UW-Madison approved “maternal deprivation” tests on baby monkeys, allowing researchers to take newborn rhesus macaque monkeys away from their mothers in order to subject them to a barrage of invasive tests, including exposing the infant monkeys to live snakes, painful skin-punch biopsies, and spinal taps before killing the baby monkeys at 18 months. An enormous outcry from the general public, bioethicists, and the scientific community erupted over these immensely cruel methods. A Change.org petition demanding an end to the tests has received over half a million signatures as of this writing.
In spring of 2015, the university announced changes to the experiment—the central focus of which was originally maternal deprivations—that would no longer remove the babies from their mothers, but would still subject all 40 infant monkeys to the same series of horrific tests before killing them and dissecting their brains. The ALDF fight for record access to meetings of the IACUC pursuant to Wisconsin’s open records law will enable the public to fulfill its traditional role as watchdog and assess the scientific and ethical justification of this and other invasive research on baby monkeys.
More about the case and the recent brief can be read at the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s site.
A copy of LLG’s opening brief is available here.