Macaque monkeys, our closest relative.
Macaque monkeys are the closest animal relatives to humans, one evolutionary step away from us. They have been proven to be sentient beings able to recognize their own image in the mirror. Thus when news broke of Elon Musk's company performing heinous experiments on them, leading most to a painful death, there was a much deserved outcry.
First the facts. Documents obtained by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) have revealed the extreme suffering of monkeys used in experiments at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), as part of research for Elon Musk’s brain-chip company Neuralink. PCRM has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) against UC Davis for carrying out “invasive and deadly brain experiments” on 23 monkeys, 15 of whom reportedly died, between 2017 and 2020.
The monkeys had holes drilled into their brains where electrodes were implanted. A part of Neuralink's experiments with "brain-machine interface". The monkeys were caged alone and suffered "debilitating health effects". Some had chewed off their own fingers and toes reacting to the suffering from the brain electrodes. Since using monkeys for unimaginably horrid experiments and then killing them is perfectly normal in our abnormal society, PCRM's complaint focuses on the violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, accusing Neuralink of failing to provide the dying monkeys with adequate veterinary help and killing them with an unauthorized substance called “Bioglue".
UC Davis, the actual culprit in carrying out the experiments, was paid $1.4 million by Neuralink to do the atrocities. Neuralink's response to the global outrage was that the technology being tested was to “help people with paralysis to regain independence through the control of computers and mobile devices.” It claims that the technology “has the potential to treat a wide range of neurological disorders, to restore sensory and movement function, and eventually to expand how we interact with each other, with the world, and with ourselves.”
While the aforementioned is laudable, the path to get there can't be tainted with the blood and death of creatures much like ours. If one was to propose curing cancer by killing 100 or so humans the reaction would be intolerable. These monkeys are our closest links in the animal world. Elon Musk who is behind Neuralink aspires to be a legendary hero figure, overcoming obstacles, leading humanity to a new and brighter world. However the hero worship he receives is unfounded if built on the bodies of the innocent and the weak.
Musk should in actuality be called the "Teflon Don" for his ability to do and say just about anything and get away with it. Example when when he said Gertrude, a pig who allegedly had a Neuralink chip in her brain, was “healthy and happy” and “loving life”. How exactly did Musk know that Gertrude was so happy with her implant? Dr. Katy Taylor, director of science and regulatory affairs at Cruelty Free International, responded by saying: "It beggars belief that animals are being used in this type of grotesque curiosity-driven experiment.”
Neuralink’s promotional videos and material have helped to encourage this idea that the animals it uses are all having a great time and are very well cared for. But what they show the public is what Neuralink wants them to see. However the analysis of UC Davis documents by PCRM show a different story. They instead show poor and intolerable treatment of the monkeys, resulting in their deaths. And even at that point they did not care enough to help them to a pain free death.
While it remains legal at this time to use animals in experiments, there are limits to what and how we can behave. Neuralink is so very unsure of its prospects that it is not even willing to pick any one of its experiments for human trials. But they are perfectly happy to keep drilling holes into the brains of animals and then killing them. US Davis should be ashamed of their complicity in this horror. And the personality cult around Musk begs the question, are Neuralink and UC Davis being approved to carry out horrible experiments on animals based mainly on Musk’s personal fears and capitalist fantasies about the future?
We sincerely hope USDA, historically a useless organization that has done nothing for the welfare of animals, will find in its cold heart a way to do its job and get to the bottom of this apparent horrific animal abuse. If you'd like more information on alternative ways to testing on animals PCRM is an excellent organization. Please get involved if possible by clicking here.