News & Alerts

NASA Cancels Plan to Irradiate Squirrel Monkeys

December 13, 2010 Evans, Renee. 13 Dec. 2010 Press Release

NASA's plan to study the effects of radiation on squirrel monkeys has been cancelled thanks to the hard work of several organizations and activists like you.

Earlier this week, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine sent out the good news. After over a year of campaigning, PCRM learned that not only were the experiments cancelled, but that NASA announced intentions to review all of their research and future development plans.

"Because of your hard work, these monkeys will not be irradiated or otherwise abused," PCRM wrote their supporters. "Furthermore, we have sent a powerful message to all federal agencies that they must consider the interests of animals in the pursuit of research."

Petitions were started on by Kinship Circle, PETA, and community member, Dian Wright, opposing NASA's squirrel monkey experiment.

NASA's plan sparked Kinship Circle to launch a campaign against the agency, too. The story made it onto their "Top Ten Alerts" list, stating that, "abusing monkeys to assess human response to long-term space voyage was a giant leap backward."

The group further asked activists to send letters, faxes, emails and to make phone calls to the federal body. Kinship Circle is elated at the win.

According to PETA, over 100,000 phone calls, letters and emails from activists were sent to the agency asking for the experiment to be stopped. Dozens of protests were organized by the group.

The experiment would have subjected the monkeys to harmful radiation for three years and likely caused tumors, brain damage, loss of motor control and shortened life span. The monkeys would have been kept isolated in cages.

The harsh reality of the experiment prompted April Evans to resign from her position as an engineer and space architect for the International Space Station.

Former astronaut, Leroy Chiao, also spoke out against irradiating monkeys. Although radiation is the biggest threat to astronauts and he'd like to see his friends and colleagues better protected, Chiao didn't think the planned experiment would help anyone survive in deep space.

Several other groups and organizations—ranging from Animal Defenders International to the European Space Agency—spoke out against NASA's planned experiment. Members of the U.S. Congress also joined in the fight, as well as stars such as Alicia Silverstone, Bob Barker, James Cromwell and Sir Paul McCartney.

Diligent campaigning, protests, petitions, calls and letters all helped stop NASA's plan to irradiate the 30 squirrel monkeys. The victory is certainly one giant leap for monkeykind.

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