uToronto discontinues research on live monkeys

February 17, 2012

The University of Toronto's last 2 reseach monkeys were euthanized about 3 weeks ago after 7 years of experiments into movement and pain in the human mouth. The use of "non-human primates" for research has gradually declined at uToronto, down from about 7 a year in the 1990s, for logistical reasons and well as ethical sensitivities. While the university will not close the book on primate research entirely, it is clearly shifting away from using monkeys to advance science, a contentious issue that has at times been marred by threats and violence. The last 2 monkeys were macaques used to investigate the brain's mechanisms for sensory and motor functions in the face and mouth. Athough the monkeys had electrodes implanted in their brains to stimulate and record brain activity, the lead researcher insists they were not in pain. A group of uToronto graduate students in primatology recently wrote an appeal to the university that the monkeys be allowed to live out their lives in an animal sanctuary, hoping they might still be alive. That was not possible, says uToronto's AVP research, because the researchers needed to dissect the monkey's brains to verify the right parts had been stimulated. Globe and Mail