The animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals today filed a lawsuit against Oregon Health and Science University over the release of video recordings of monkey experiments.
PETA argues that because the experiments are taxpayer-funded—made possible by publicly-funded National Institutes of Health grants—the tapes should be made available via Oregon's open-records law.
The lawsuit, filed today in Multnomah County Circuit Court, specifically seeks "the production of public records relating to maternal nutrition experiments conducted on mother-infant or mother-juvenile pairs of monkeys, and experiments relating to self-injurious behavior."
More specifically: experiments where researchers allegedly fed mother monkeys experimental diets, separated them from offspring and "deliberately frightening the young monkeys."
OHSU spokesperson Tamara Hargens-Bradley tells WW: "OHSU has just received and is reviewing the court filing. We have no comment at this time."
In a statement, PETA spokesperson Tasgola Bruner says the medical university told the group that the requested videos are "proprietary and unpublished research information."
"But experimenters have already published several papers based on these federally funded experiments," Bruner says, "which have no realistic chance of resulting in anything of commercial value."
PETA's senior vice president, Kathy Guillermo, adds in a statement, "OHSU officials are trying to hide video footage of experimenters terrorizing infant monkeys, possibly because they fear that it would jeopardize their cash flow."
OHSU's National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), located in Hillsboro, currently houses around 5,000 primates.
Since 2017, OHSU has received Animal Welfare Act 12 violations—"including six 'critical' violations," PETA's statement claims, "more than any other university in the U.S. during this same time period."
On its website, the National Primate Research Center says that its goal is to "help people across generations live longer, healthier lives through scientific breakthroughs." It says that the psychological health of the animals is overseen by a special behavioral unit (BSU).
"Together with the husbandry, clinical, and scientific staff, and using the most current knowledge from the field of primate behavior," the website reads, "the BSU ensures the behavioral health of the monkeys."